Sex with Friends
It’s almost Tuesday morning. You’re lying awake in bed missing the space she used to take up next to you. You’re lonely, but so is everyone else. You decide to do what everyone else does. Another Tinder fling, another one night stand, another walk home in the same clothes you showed up in. It’s something to fill the time between now and whenever you die, though, so you might as well put yourself through it again. You show up, get naked, fall asleep, tell her you want to see her again. You cover up your shame and walk home. You don’t text her back, and she doesn’t text you. You’re not alone again; you were never not alone.
You hit up your friend Angela. Angela’s mean, but she’s kind where it counts. You’ve known each other for years, but you’re not sure if you’re still friends because you’re that close or if you’ve just known each other for a really long time. The things that stick around are the ones worth having, right? I’ve been depressed for years, so that must mean it’s something important. We’ve known each other for years, so that must mean we’re something important. If not to ourselves, then at least to each other. She texts you back, you talk for a while. You haven’t talked in weeks, but that doesn’t change anything. You head over to her place, talk some more. You tell her you love her, want to settle down. You’d marry her if you could. It’s not true, but you think it is while you’re saying it. She calls your bluff and tells you you’re full of it. You didn’t bring a condom, thought it’d be rude to assume she’d feel the same. It’s alright, she says, she’s got her own. You drive home in the same clothes the next morning and don’t talk to her for a month.
This was a mistake. Yeah, you say, I know it was. You tell her you were just lonely. She says something similar. Sorry for making things weird, it was my fault too, shouldn’t have said anything at all, shouldn’t have let you talk me into it. We’re both bad in this situation. You tell her to have a nice life, she asks you what you’re doing tonight. You drive over and don’t leave until the morning.
It’s really weird now, but it’s not really weird at all. We’re adults. If we wanna fuck, we’re gonna fuck. She puts your hand on her throat and you put her hand where it shouldn’t be. We’re both in this now, for better or worse. You take her to the park, she puts her head in your lap. She takes you to the zoo, you put her hand in yours. You take her out to dinner, now it’s weird again. What do you want? What do you think she wants? She tells you what she wants. You say you don’t know what you want, but that’s not true. She gets up to leave, you drive her home. You planned to drop her off and go home to snort a piece of heaven. You don’t make it home, but you end up in heaven anyway.
Years later now, you’re still talking. Occasionally you talk to other people. Sometimes you even talk to her. That was a mistake, it’s all in the past. That’s what we tell ourselves, at least. She says she thought this type of love was that type of love but it was really just one kind of love all along. Nothing like what we thought it was back then. We’re actually adults now. We know what actually loving people feels like. We go out to lunch, a walk, a car ride to a park dark enough that neither of us has to see what we’re doing. You drive her home in the same clothes you picked her up in. It’s not weird anymore. Just something that happens. Just something we do.
Summer’s almost here. You’re trying to grow up, but you can’t help but notice how well that bikini frames her body. She’s trying to grow up, but she can’t help but notice how you haven’t changed at all. She wants to stay in the past, just like all of us. Replaying good memories over and over again until they’re only vague images of the people we used to be. You’re the rock she holds onto when life pushes her around too hard. She’s the blanket you crawl under when you don’t have the strength to look yourself in the eye. You still see her from time to time. A day at the beach, sex on the beach, sex in your car, sex anywhere. Diminishing returns, a sense that we’re stuck in place. The urge to run, grab your shoes and keys and get out while you can. The desire to disappear, grab her phone and call an Uber while you’re still asleep. You drive her home in the same clothes you picked her up in. She always wears something nice for you, but she wishes she didn’t want to. You never cover up your ugly for her, but she wouldn’t be here if you did. We agree this was fun, had some good times, still care for each other, not happening again. She goes inside and thinks about deleting your number, but she takes a shower instead. You go home and think about blocking her, but you smoke a cigarette instead. She’s just as real as you are. You’re just as fake as she is. You hit up your friend Olivia.