The minute Ginny saw the neat bedsit with its square skylight over the bed and its long, narrow window looking out from the kitchenette over the grey-blue roofs of the town, she felt that this was, at last, a place where she could stay awhile. A place where she could be normal.
And now he’d spoiled it. She hadn’t even moved in and she’d had to get him ready and it was over before it had begun. He shouldn’t have laughed at her like that. Like they all did.
She was always hungry afterwards and now she was tapping stubby, sticky fingers around a small, white china plate, dipping up the last crumbs from the slice of cold pizza and some fruit cake she’d found in the fridge.
She thought of Rob in his armchair, in her head she heard again his endless prattle. The worst was when he’d laughed at her, in front of that woman and the other girl. That wouldn’t do. It wasn’t normal. Even if they had all laughed at her. But he wouldn't laugh at her again. Rob was ready.
The thought of his readiness aroused her. First hungry, then sexy. Time for the dancing. She only danced these days once they were ready. She had to be careful because if they weren’t ready, they laughed. They didn’t understand that it wasn’t normal to laugh, especially at the dancing. They coaxed, goaded her into dancing, made her, then laughed and it got her mad. She practised so hard to get the movements just right, practised in front of her mirror, so that wasn’t why. It was because they weren’t ready. So now, Ginny got them ready, stubbornly holding back her dancing until they were quite ready.
The familiar dark swamp of desire sucking at the pit of her stomach, Ginny strode back into the lounge where Rob sat facing the space she’d created in the centre of the room. Her dance-floor. His head had lolled forward, his chin resting on his chest. Blood, run down from the neat, single slash in his neck, was drying on his shirt. He should to be looking at her. He should see her dance. She’d got him ready. She tipped his head up, but it only drooped again. She was disappointed. Things weren’t quite right this time.
She placed herself seductively in the middle of the dance-floor, plump hands with sausage-like fingers on vast, fleshy hips, one projecting to the side as if in mid-sashay. She was close enough to reach out and touch him. She switched on the music in her head.
« Desafinado »
She didn’t know the lyrics and wasn’t sure of the tune, but she liked the word.
« Desafinado ». Sexy word. On the first syllable she brought her flabby arm in an arc over her head and pointed a provocative, pudgy finger at Rob’s slumped body, as if choosing the lucky winner of a lazy, sexy lap dance. « Desafinado ».
Swaying, she drew her hands up the sides of her ribcage and breasts and pushed them into the air above her head. No-one laughed. It was going well. She brought her hands down, left to the right hand seam of her tee shirt, right to the other side, ready to peel it off, leaned forward and wagged her ample breasts where Rob’s face should have been, then gazing at the top of his head, dipped hers, lowered her eyes as if demurely.... and ..... stopped .... « Desafinado » shrieked, ended with a DJ scratch ....
Blinked. What the fuck is that? On the floor? The fucking phone! Shit! Shit! Who did he call? Shit! Shit! Shit! Ginny grabbed the phone where it lay by Rob’s feet. Punched the redial keys. Nothing. The battery was dead. Who? Fucking who? Might be here any time ... Shit!
Panicked, she hauled her bag to her shoulder and fled. Where? Where?
On the square, the light from all-night laundrette cast a reluctant glow on to the pavement. Clutching her bag to her to cover her blood-splashed tee shirt and jeans, Ginny ran inside. The man at the desk barely looked up, « A’right, love? »
« Yeah, OK ».
She hurried to the machine farthest from the door, squashed herself into the shadow beyond it, changed her soiled clothes and trainers for the clean ones in her bag and shoved the lot into the machine. Dropped in a coin. Slammed the start button. Subsided heavily on to a chair. Watched as her things began turning in pinkish-grey water.
Gradually, hypnotised by the steady thrum-swish of the washer, she felt calm enough to take stock. He’d been ready; hadn’t he? At least she’d thought so. All that was right. It was the phone that bothered her. Shit-shit! She couldn’t remember if it had been there before. Who had he called? What had he said? She took comfort in the thought that he’d been ready, she’d seen to that, she had to be careful and she was, so he hadn’t phoned anybody.
So... OK... Now... Where had she been up to? She was dancing, so she must have been sexy. But it wasn’t over. That wasn’t normal. It had to be over. It could never be normal if it wasn’t over. She looked around.
She knew it wasn’t right, not ever, to touch herself in the toilet. Touching like that was only all right if she was dancing. But what choice did she have? None, that’s what. None.
She locked herself into the dim, narrow cubicle. It was too cramped to dance in there and she wondered whether she should stand or sit and couldn’t decide.
For a while her fingers scraped dry flesh. She didn’t like it. It hurt. Not like when she was dancing. But it had to be over. She closed her eyes, pictured Rob, ready. Then a few more of them. Then it began to be nice, especially with her eyes closed and them all watching her, ready....
At last elusive waves of pleasure came rolling through her. Timidly at first. Then rolling, lurching, unrelenting. The ultimate, long-awaited dam-wave curled itself perversely over and around all of them, gyrating on and on, on and on, each wave its own small turbulence of craving, pitching, roaring ... then ...
... recoiled abruptly, sucked into a churning, convulsing maelstrom of shame and humiliation. And they were all laughing. And Ginny saw this. And heard it. And felt the arid, bitter rasp of failure.
Oh, this wouldn’t do. Wouldn’t do at all. This wasn’t right. Wasn’t right at all. This was far from right. It wasn’t over.
In the drab, yellow pallor of the cubicle, Ginny opened peevish eyes.