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Whiskey Sours




Whiskey Sours


It’s been so long, but sometimes, still, you come back, or the ghost of you does. Maybe it’s the Catholic guilt; it’s funny, it’s when I touch myself – even not scandalously, even if I just rest it, down there, that sometimes your image rises, unbidden, the way your pudgy face would come so close and your pupils go wide when you stroked and I wondered what reaction I was supposed to fake tonight to keep you happy, and I feel like I want to shiver and shudder, go take a shower, or something.


#

  

-        Six months. I hope we’ll still be together in another six. I hope we’ll be together forever.


-        FUCK OFF. Fuck off – out of my head, out of my life, out of my head. Fuck off forever.


#


“How come we never said I love you?” he asked her, on the pier.


She didn’t answer. She was thinking. That was one of the things he said he liked about her, her thinking. The thing he really liked, though, was that when she was thinking, she was silent.


So she didn’t tell him the answer she had thought. She thought it was obvious anyway. Because we didn’t. Because we don’t.


#

It comes back sometimes, haunts

In different ways

A similar laugh and sense of smug entitlement in a stranger

Triggers a feeling


And my body tenses

Like by doing that now it could make itself, in the past

Never have let you in,

My legs clench, clamp shut, wishing you were never here.


#


She wanted to try a whiskey sour in the college bar. He told her she wouldn’t like them.


#


Sex and panic. That was their glue. He wanted an easy ride, in every possible sense of the word. He thought a younger body easier to conquer, a younger mind more malleable. She thought she was too old to still be a virgin, too old to never have had a proper boyfriend. She thought, beggars can’t be choosers. She came to the pub for their first date with the taste of panic in her mouth. When she woke up in his bed the next day, that taste was even stronger.


#


No one ever said they thought there must be something wrong with her, because she never had boyfriends. They were happy and she suspected relieved she’d finally found one though, even if (come on, everyone was thinking it), he was slightly less than ideal.


Her friends said things like “Ooh, you’re so cute together!” And she thinks, What, like a pair of rabbits?


“It’s sickening!” How did that become a complement?


“Love love love!” There’s got to be more to love...


#


She wanted to try a whiskey sour at after-work drinks. She liked them. She woke up the next morning and made a mental note, a resolution. If she has a one night stand again, she’ll only have it with someone who lives in the same transport zone.


#


She doesn’t always stick to the transport zone resolution. But awkward early morning journeys are a small price to pay for the late night fun. She starts to think of these short-lived thrusting trysts as mini-exorcisms. Every new man’s physicality pushes the memory of the older man further away.


She still loves the taste of whiskey sours. She wakes up in the mornings with all sorts of tastes in her mouth. None of them as bad as panic.


#


Love takes selflessness and courage. He didn’t have the first and when they met, with the taste of a general panic about life so strong in her mouth, she didn’t have the second. But she was getting there. And that’s why it was over.


She’d tell her friends how they broke up on a pier and they’d joke she should have pushed him in.


#


His hair is kind of blonde like the whiskey sour he bought her. Kind of brown, like the coffee he made her the next morning. She’s too embarrassed to admit she can’t remember his name and saves his number as My Favourite Whiskey Sour.


She finds out his name after they’ve been out a few times, but she doesn’t edit his details in her phone.


#


In the new house she wakes up earlier. She idly browses her phone and that ex’s wedding pops up, somehow, in her news feed, and the first words that come to her mind are bullet and dodged. She hasn’t thought of him in a long time, she’s surprised to realise. She thinks she never worked out if it was an abusive relationship, or just a bad one, and is there really a difference anyway? She thinks that nothing now makes her want to say yes to a man more than knowing he’ll respect a no if she gives it.

She rolls over and smiles. Her Favourite Whiskey Sour gets up to make her a coffee.

Naomi Elster

Naomi Elster has a PhD in breast cancer. She writes fiction, nonfiction, and scripts, and has been widely published, including by The Establishment, The Guardian and Crannóg Magazine.

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