We cling to our illusions; smiles and holding hands and perfunctionary mechanical sex. After we climb off each other we take turns in the bathroom to ‘freshen up’. We finish ourselves off. Neither of us acknowledge that we both know what we are doing. The acceptance of this final ceremony would bring the entire house of cards down. So I run the shower as I sit on the toilet seat and whack one out before the erection dies. I collect myself in a tissue and flush it away and the bathroom is all hers. She does the same, except her moans float over the sound of the water, and I have to put the radio on in the kitchen to pretend I cannot hear.
When we walk down the beach I draw our names in the wet sand, surrounded by a weirdly asymmetrical love heart that I can’t be bothered to correct. She draws pictures of flying saucers in tight neat formations, always ascending, always pointing upwards. There are doves also, and stalks of wheat. She takes off her shoes and stands in the freezing sea until her ankles go blue and her teeth are chattering. I know she keeps a tally of the number of times I say let’s go home, and I know the current record is five.
None of this troubles me. Instead, I’m haunted by the fingertip bruises on her neck, from the lover who chokes her and fucks her in a way I never could.