I awake with a start. She is gone. The bed is cold. I am alone.
Did we have a row? I can’t remember. Did she threaten and I shout? Was I given one last chance or none? Was I too far gone to notice or to care? The sheet is stiff and cold in my fingers, soiled and grimy to the touch.
I scrabble for the clock. Five a.m. Still dark. Early autumn.
I lurch to my feet. Last night’s Shiraz swilling around my gut. My tongue purple and furry, my lips stained. The room smells of dirty clothes and unwashed sheets. The cold congealed remains of a pizza lie unwanted on the bedside table.
I find my trousers crumpled in the corner. Flung there last night, t-shirt nearby. I pull them on and then my boots, no socks – fuck knows where they are.
On automatic pilot now I do up my watch, slip my wallet into my pocket and grab my keys.
I pull the curtain and turn on the light. Some of her clothes are scattered around the room. There is a dark stain on the carpet.
Where the fuck is she? Where has she gone? What did I do? Did I do anything, or nothing?
Fear of abandonment saturates me, her absence fills the room – panic threatens.
I throw open the French windows onto the balcony and stare down into the communal courtyard. Her car is still there. Doesn’t mean anything, she was too drunk to drive.
I turn and run across the bedroom, boots thumping loudly on the polished floorboards. I throw open the door and charge towards the stairs.
I hear the toilet flush in the bathroom behind me down the hall. I turn as she comes out, tousled, hair all over the place, gorgeous.
She is still half asleep. She looks at me confused.
‘You’re up early, where are you going?’
Relief and shame vie for supremacy. For a moment I cannot speak.
‘Don’t leave me.’ I hear myself saying, ‘Please don’t ever leave me.’
She looks down at my boots, for the first time really taking things in.
Her warm smell envelopes me, her arms enfold.
‘Oh you goose’ she says, ‘come back to bed.’
Outside, the first glimmer of dawn begins to show.