Paul Heatley’s fiction has previously appeared in Read This, Sex and Murder, Sparkbright, Thuglit, Near to the Knuckle, The Molotov Cocktail and the Flash Fiction Offensive. He lives in the North East of England.
Do Not Feed The Animals
Janine’s flat was on the corner at the top of the main street. Every hour during the day a bus drove by and shook the glass in her bedroom window. They had to stop for the junction below, and their roaring engines shook the room.
“That’s really fucking annoying,” I said after it woke me up the morning after our first one-night stand.
“You get used to it,” she said.
I doubted it.
We’d met in the town’s only nightclub, both of us wasted, and dry-humped down the road all the way back to her place. I had a dim memory of her sticking her tongue in my ear and whispering “It’s not far.” Truth be told, I couldn’t remember if we’d actually fucked, but there was a condom lying knotted on the floor and it was full so the chances were good.
Janine made eggs while wearing a grey t-shirt that barely covered her backside and showed off all of her long legs, and I wished I could remember fucking her.
“You wear glasses?” I said as she sat down.
“Only in the morning. Before I shower. Then I put my contacts in. My head hurts today. I might leave the glasses on. You lose interest in a girl if she has bad eyes?”
“No,” I said.
They had thick black rims and looked good on her. She had pale skin and red hair that was tied back. As well as her tongue in my ear, I could vaguely recall that she was a natural redhead.
After breakfast she sent me on my way. “I’ve got your number,” she said.
“Cool.” I left. I couldn’t remember giving it to her. Didn’t expect her to call.
She did, a week later. A Friday. I’d sat down in front of the television when my phone began to ring.
“This is Janine Grey,” she said.
“What are you doing?”
“Wanna come round?”
I was glad I was sober.
We went through a few more condoms. She kept a box of them in her underwear drawer. Three buses rattled the windowpane from eight until ten. Janine insisted we leave the curtains open and the bedside lamp on. The buses were all double deckers. My back was to the glass so I forgot about potential voyeurs and got on with the task in hand.
Afterward, we lay back and stared out the window. A few stars poked under the slanted roof.
“They could probably see us,” I said. “On the buses.”
“They probably could,” Janine said.
“That kind of thing get you off?”
She shrugged. “Maybe. People always ask me if I’m bothered that everyone on the top level can see inside. It doesn’t. I don’t care if they look. Usually they do. If I stand at the window and stare back, they look away.”
“And what about when you’re fucking?”
“They don’t turn away then. You know what I do when it gets late, and the last few buses are passing by? I lie here on the bed, totally naked, and I play with myself. Right here under the light. You should see the faces, especially the teens. They squeeze up to the window, like they could reach me through the glass. They pull out their mobile phones and try to take photos and videos before the bus pulls away again. They look like they’re at the zoo, watching something really rare, like a Panda trying to mate.”
“Why do you do that?”
She shrugged again. “Why not?”
I still see Janine. She still insists we leave the curtains open and the light on, and I don’t argue. I’ll keep seeing her and we’ll keep doing this, until either of us gets something long-term or decides to address the fact we’re in a relationship. Maybe then I’ll say something about the curtains. Or maybe I’ll just leave them be.