‘His favourite film.’
‘Really? But it’s so damn long.’ A strangled laugh escapes from his lips. ‘Fasten your seatbelt,’ he says.
He looks at her. ‘Oh shit.’ It’s all he can think of to say.
‘He was pissed. As usual.’
He stares down at his hands, then runs them grasping through his hair. He thinks of her hands, how they move over his yielding flesh, then earlier – before he got there… He covers his open mouth with his hand and mutters through it: ‘Jesus. I never meant it to be taken seriously. I never thought… not for one moment, you know?’
‘I can’t. She…’
‘You don’t understand. ‘
‘Oh, I do. Perfectly.’
He grips the steering wheel with both hands until his knuckles turn white. In silence he watches a petite tortoiseshell cat trot across the road, mouse in its jaws. It leaps onto a wall and over, into a garden.
‘Will you forgive me?’ he says.
‘Are you going to say anything with more than a few syllables?’
‘Are you going to keep to your side of the bargain?’
‘I’m really, truly sorry.’ he says.
‘At least I get an apology. I suppose one should be grateful for small mercies.’ She gives a little shake of her head and leans into the passenger door, long unkempt hair silhouetted against the sunrise. The glow forms a halo and he can’t take his eyes of her. It’s been this way since first they met.
‘I couldn’t take it anymore,’ she says.
‘They’ll be looking for me.’
‘Take it off.’
He turns the key and the engine complains into life. They set off slow through the old town, content to be still, for a while. She rests her face on the glass, appreciative of the smooth cold against her skin.
‘We can never win,’ she says, the words barely audible.
‘But we will never lose.’ His left hand reaches out to her right, clasps it tight. She doesn’t resist his touch, or respond to it. Marks of history etched into his ring finger. He wonders if she can feel them, mirror to her own.
‘I’ve got nothing to prove anymore,’ she says.
Lauren Foster is a writer and musician based in Charnwood, and a recent graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester.