Come round, she says, Johnny’s got the kids. I baked.
It’s August. I rarely leave London but now I feel like I’m on holiday, walking to Lucinda’s. I could almost sling off my shoes.
Gina. She grins at me as she opens the door. I started without you.
You goofy bitch, I say. Three kids? You’d never guess. Concave waist, long perfect legs, dark pretty eyes like a bad fairy.
We eat like kings. On the living room sofa, straight from the baking tray, not caring how the fresh brownies steam on a thirty-one degree afternoon. Lucinda strips to her underwear. I do the same. We’re really getting baked now. Smoking cigarettes too. Lucinda didn’t tell me in words what she’d made when she opened the door. Her eyes did but I knew if I listened I might not cross over. We laugh at each other, at things we can’t quite remember that maybe happened or maybe not. Ten years ago. Fifteen. When we were fifteen. Then we laugh at nothing at all.
She jumps up. I’m It, she shrieks and chases me round the room, catching me easily. I am scared but she hugs me and smears brown buttercream on my face. We fall back on the sofa.
Then – have you ever slept with a woman? she asks, just like that.
No. I can’t think of anything more boring than another woman’s vagina, I tell her.
She doesn’t laugh. Instead she says: You should try it.
I say nothing. She decides to run a bath. I don’t know what to do with myself so I check my blinking phone. Bad move when I’m stoned. Come here, she yells and I drop the phone with a smash. Her bathroom is falling apart. There’s a vintage soap ad poster above the basin, a siren with a dumbshit smile. I already know my mind is saving it for a nightmare. Lucinda starts getting sentimental on me. You’re the best, Gina. Man, I really fucked up my life… And your face! Your chocolate face! Get in.
How do you know when you’ve crossed a line? Is it when you enter the water? Or when you let your oldest friend move your hand to her breast, then past the soapy swell of her belly, down to her very centre? Or when you lie on top of her and her tongue enters your mouth?
You’re so uptight, Gina.
The bath feels so good it’s like molten quicksand. But now I’m worried about my phone. Is it broken? I’ve stood someone up. I click my fingers and then the bath cools rapidly which isn’t what my fingers planned. Lucinda pulls herself out. I yearn to want her, like I want to be high right now, not high and bumming out. She goes upstairs and I do something only a lover would do. I make a run for it. I will ring Lucinda. I love her. You’re no one if you haven’t got friends.
[illustration by Clarissa Cozzi]