It is morning and the sun still isn't up yet. I glance at the clock, wondering what had woken me up, and see that it is 4 AM. I glimpse your backside retreating into the bathroom that adjoins my hotel room, the pale light of the vanity mirror leaking through under the crack of the door as you slowly, quietly close it, the isocoles-shaped ray of artificial light thinning into darkness. I know you didn't see me staring at you as you left me alone in my bed, but I wonder if you know that I am now awake?
Who are you, that you would allow us to do this thing? We were never friends, back in high school, totally unaware of each others' existence. You were one of those people who no one ever paid attention to and so was I. We were already alone and perfectly suited to each other's non-existent social circle, but due to the nature of our antisocial attitudes, we never crossed paths before. Now it is ten years later and we've both arrived at the reunion, saying hello to anyone we might even remotely recognize through the haze of years and the damage of age. I noticed that Mary Patterson, the school's most popular cheerleader, bloated up like a balloon over the last decade. You, however, look almost exactly like you did in the annual. I had a chance to check it while you were powdering your nose, having excused yourself from our awkward conversation. Slender, plain clothes and a meek expression on your face, like you were bored to be there, in front of the camera. Like you were already thinking about a future that was more fulfilling than the life you were living in high school.
We've both grown into rather successful adults, haven't we? I'm a novelist and you're a CEO of a dot-com company that managed to survive the crash of 2000. It's funny how the people we all had pegged for "greatness" turned out to be duds and the people no one ever knew about ended up taking the world by storm. They're making a movie of my first book next year. Did I tell you about that before or during sex?
And why, exactly, did we end up in bed together in the first place? Was it some sort of mutual attraction to each other, borne out of our desperate need for something familiar and recognizeable, even if it was just mere listlessness? Our successes in adulthood were treated with the same level of indifference as we were back in school. We had these great stories of fortune and rightness with the world, but no one except ourselves to share it with. Apparently, "success" is now equated with kids and white collar jobs, not finding out who we are and what our purpose in life is. I think about the stories we both told each other and I wonder: where did we go wrong when we did everything right? Maybe that's why we slept together; because we both desperately needed something concrete to hold onto.
Sadly, we couldn't even make it as successful lovers, could we? Or, more to the point, I couldn't. I came too soon and you never came at all. I bruised my upper lip and you banged your knee on my hip. Sex hasn't been that awful since I first got laid in college. You were gracious enough to not laugh in my face, but is that what you're doing now? Laughing in my hotel bathroom at the farce that has become our spurrious tryst?
God, I feel like such a failure, even now. I couldn't even hold onto my success as a writer, did you know that? They wanted me to use a pseudonym, a fake name, because my real name sounded too lame and bland. "Justin Porter", a man who is as unreal as the characters "he" supposedly created, will end up getting the credit for my work. I'll get the royalty checks, sure, but I won't have the satisfaction of saying to the hotel clerk downstairs, "I'm the guy who wrote that book you're reading right now. So're you gonna give me a replacement key to my hotel room or what?"
Maybe I should tell you about the details of my book being published. Then, maybe, you can bad-mouth his name rather than mine when you say, "Him? Oh, I slept with him once. Terrible lay. One of the worst I ever had."
I have to say that the years have been very kind to you. Though you haven't changed much over time, that's actually kind of a good thing. Yes, you were just as plain as I was, but you were still kinda pretty. I won't lie to you and say that you're drop-dead gorgeous- we're beyond telling those kinds of blithe lies, now. But you were pretty. And you're still pretty. That's a good thing to be able to claim at twenty-eight. Narrow hips because you still haven't found a Mister Right with whom to have some kids, decent breasts, reasonably soft skin. Me? I'm Mr. Average. Average everything, which only adds to the sting just a touch more than it should. I mean, I'm average at everything except the things that I really want to do well.
Did I drool in my sleep like my ex-fiance told me I do? Did I talk in my sleep and say something to wake you and abruptly force you to realize just how stupid this all was? Did I accidentally kick your ankle? I don't know. What woke you up? And why can't I just go back to sleep and wait for you to come back to bed?
Maybe you won't come back to bed. Maybe that's the thing which is really plaguing my conscience. Could it be that you would prefer the cold bathroom tile to a warm bed, knowing that I am in that bed?
I was the worst lay you ever had, and, boy, do I know it. I know it all too well. Even when masturbating, I feel a little disappointed. If you weren't depressed before tonight, it'll be a miracle if you wake up tomorrow morning without wanting to kill yourself for sleeping with me.
I should have just been the Nice Guy and kept my mouth shut when you suggested going back to my hotel room. You said that you wanted to get away from all the boring old memories of a life you never really got to live. But I was just so damn enthralled with the poetic way you put that, I just couldn't say no. I took you back to my room and that's when the nightmare began.
Wups. The bathroom door is opening again. I go limp, like I'm still asleep. Will you quietly gather your things, hoping that I won't notice the activity, and then leave me alone? What's this? I feel you sitting on the edge of the bed. I risk opening an eye, just a tiny bit, to look at you. You're staring down at me with the strangest look on your face, smiling. I can see it in the pre-morning glow and the neon from the hotel sign outside. Your face has a pink hue to it, like a rose-colored sun has set on your eyes. Your features relax a little and you bend down to say something, but nothing comes, just quiet breathing. I feel a soft kiss on my cheek and then you lie back down on the bed, next to me. I am stunned and shocked.
Was I that bad? Or were you? Or.... was it really that good?