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by Monica Dickson

Kwik Byte Snacks, Beverages and Outside Catering (09.10.01)

Working the sandwich bar across from your office, you come in and flirt and I give you stuff for free. A sausage roll. A doughnut. I don’t know why. It’s basically stealing.

Tonic Bar & Grill (05.12.01)

I bump into you, out. It’s your firm’s Christmas party and you push past the suits drinking beer from tall vases to join me at the bar. It’s too loud to pull off funny and you frown as I shout in your ear. You order black sambucas and a liquid ease spreads between my shoulder blades, the reverse of coming up. You say ridiculous things like you could turn a guy’s head and I don’t sneer. Our kiss tastes like liquorice and I feel sick when I see the tab. You take my number so you can pay me back.

Just Inn B & B (16.12.01)

First date. Three bottles of prosecco and a set meal from the early bird menu. Karaoke in the casual bar after, a duet: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. We talk to some other people who look like a couple, whose names we won’t remember. Later there is triple sec and sticky, numb sex in a room soundproofed with soft furnishings. I settle the bill.

Late Nite Lounge (31.12.01)

Too many vodkas and an unnamed substance, receipt not available. We cling to each other, white-knuckled, wide-eyed, marooned on a bed that’s too big for us. The floor swims. Strangers join us on the life raft. You say if this was a desert island we wouldn’t make it and light your cigarette at the wrong end. Back at my flat we crawl onto a futon and don’t get up for two days.

Orient Xpress, Caribbean Bites, Pizza Pleaze, Just Falafs (03.01.02 – 07.02.02, inclusive)

Someone owes you money. You come to my place, often, and always on a Friday. We have perfunctory sex and you order takeaway on my credit card. I take on extra shifts. You stop coming in for free sandwiches.

DIY Warehouse (14.02.02)

Chest of drawers, four or six in beech. I don’t need six drawers, or four, all to myself. We argue until neither of us can remember why. I walk off but lose my bearings in wall units and media storage. We call a truce at the self-service checkout and I pick up accessories non-couples don’t need. I drive us both back to mine and miss the turn-off; we shout at each other some more. You don’t want to help me assemble furniture and you let me know this by jumping out of the car while it’s still moving.

BestTelecomms (23.02.02)

10 days, 72 calls to your number, straight to answerphone.

Kwik Byte Snacks, Beverages and Outside Catering (24.02.02 – )

Working the sandwich bar across from your office, men come in and flirt and I give nothing away.

Monica Dickson is a short fiction writer from Leeds. Her work has been published in Firewords, Salomé, The Cabinet of Heed and elsewhere. She tweets @Mon_Dickson and blogs at https://writingandthelike.wordpress.com/.