Home > Don't You Forget About Me(7)

Don't You Forget About Me(7)
Author: Mhairi McFarlane

‘Jesus Christ, thank you!’

That’s what Esther really thinks – this is what they all think. Oh how, er, ‘unlucky’. Trouble seems to follow her around doesn’t it? How many times is that now? Mmmm. It enrages me and at the same time worries me. I fear they’re right. Whenever anyone criticises me, I always worry they’re right. I overcompensate with extra outrage.

‘You know what I mean,’ Esther says.

‘In that you mean I’m an incompetent liar? Noted.’

‘Oh, don’t be a diva, Gog. All I’m asking is that you’re considerate towards Mark being connected to this.’

The Gog is definitely manipulative. Makes me and my objections to this characterisation sound small and silly.

‘Got it,’ I say tightly. ‘Thanks, Esther. Oh, my bus is here.’

I hang up before she can reply.

I stub out the tail end of my fag. What to do? I know hanging around at night time on my own is a bad idea. I square my shoulders: he’s had time to settle himself now, if he says, ‘why not warn me?’ I called, right? Not my fault.

I rifle in my handbag and find the key. It didn’t come threaded with ribbon, in a box – it has a West Ham fob as it used to be his brother Felix’s. He crashed with Robin when he was benched with an injury from the Cirque Du Soleil. (Seriously. I wonder if the McNee parents thought they were raising lawyers and doctors.)

Robin handed it over after a row where I’d rung the doorbell endlessly after work, and the Rolling Stones was on too loud for him to hear. He eventually answered to find not only a pissed off, knackered girlfriend but also a very angry, severely jet-lagged next-door neighbour wearing an eye mask round his neck who had heard my endless attempts to raise him. (‘Did he not know you were coming round?’ I was embarrassed to admit – especially to someone who’d been awake for thirty-two hours – that he did know.)

‘Sorry you couldn’t get no satisfaction, you can’t always get what you want. Did you want to paint my red door black?’ Robin said when he finally appeared, not reading the room.

‘Pure twat,’ said the neighbour.

When Robin gave the key to me I asked, what occasions is it for? Robin said: ‘Any time you want to open the door. That’s how they work, isn’t it?’

So, he said it.


After knocking with no answer, I turn the key with a snap, the door opens and the vista of the glamorous bachelor pad is in front of me, music set to deafening as it always is. (Robin was playing it earlier in the week. ‘The new St Vincent, it’s good. Also not that it should matter but she’s got a bum like two Crème Eggs in a satin glove.’)

Robin is nowhere immediately in sight. I call: ‘Robin? Robin …’

Nothing. The stereo drowned me out, I think. He’ll be unpacking the Birds Eye waffles and Rustler burgers in the kitchen, no doubt.

Further into the room and still no sight of Robin, though the blue bag is abandoned on the sofa, its contents spilling on to the cushions, multiple tubs of Ben & Jerry’s Vermonster. They’re going to melt over the leather. I twitch to put them in the freezer but it seems officious before ‘hello’.

I peer round into the kitchen, not there.

I lean back and crane my neck to look up, towards the bed on the platform above. I’m about to call ‘Robin’ again and then I hear weird strangled sounds, distinct from the official soundtrack.

Ugggggh fuuuu

Nuf-nuf-nuf mmmpppppf

Don’t … don’t … oh my God, yes

I freeze to the spot. My skin goes cold and yet hot, prickling with shock. Did I hear what I think I heard. Is this possible. Is this happening. No. No? It can’t be. This happens to other people, not me, not right now. This is a hilarious mistake and it’s going to end up in Robin’s act, that time his girlfriend walked in on him doing yoga or whatever.

St Vincent reaches another sonic lull and this time it’s:

Uh uh UGH

You like this don’t you, say you like it.

The second line is familiar to me and I feel a lurch, a sudden acrid wash of vomit pending at the back of my throat. I stand motionless as the rhythmic heaving in the background continues. I can pick out an intermittent pressure on a bed frame that’s unmistakable now.

I can’t look. But I definitely can’t not look. Having to focus to steady my hands, and tiptoe towards the metal ladder, I mechanically and carefully climb the rungs to the mezzanine level, planting my heeled boots with precision. I never liked this thing at the best times, made going for a drunk nocturnal wee feel like the Crystal Maze.

I poke my head up above floor level, sweaty hands fastened to the aluminium.

In the large low bed beneath the skylight, I see Robin’s bare arse pistoning up and down, a pair of skinny white female legs splayed either side. Disbelief. Revelation. Revulsion. And the thought: God, do we look like that when do we it?

It strikes me how weird it is to see two people having sex, up close, in real life. You’ve been one of the people, you’ve seen it happen on a screen enough, but an on-premises spectator to the act? Totally surreal. I’m still not quite believing what I’m seeing, as if Robin might’ve tripped and fallen and be having trouble getting back up again.

I can’t help comparing. It’s a lot more frenzied and noisy than we are. We were.

Do it Robin do it I love you aaaaaahhh

Lou. Talk. Dirty.

This is said while punctuated with a thrust each time, and suddenly, without making a conscious decision to announce my presence, I snap and yell: ‘WHAT THE FUCK?!’

Both bodies jerk and spasm with the shock of my joining the conversation and Robin falls sideways from the bed with the effort of getting off the woman, and turning round to look at the same time.

The woman wriggles to sit up and I see that a) she is tied to the bed posts by her wrists with scarves, one of which is a striped football scarf I recently ran through a hot wash for him b) she has small breasts, with nipple rings like barbells, a flower tattoo curling round her ribcage and c) she is coated in some sort of pale, lumpy substance, which after a second’s disorientated fright I realise comes from squashed tubs nearby, the emptied-out contents of a Vermonster.

As she boggles at me through a cloud of mussed spirally brown hair and I boggle back at her I realise I know who she is – she’s Robin’s PA, Lou.

Robin stands naked, hair like a fright wig, erection now at half mast, as if it’s been lowered out of respect for a visit by the Queen. He’s as pale as the Vermonster.

‘Oh God fucking hell Georgina what are you doing here?!’

‘I got sacked from work. What are you doing?’

‘What … well … how did you get in?!’

Robin seems angry with The Fates rather than himself, as if this is one terrible admin cock-up, as opposed to his cock half up.

‘You gave me a key?’

‘Oh, God …’ the truth dawns on Robin: the architect of all of his pain was himself. He was going to try some very thin defence that I’d somehow broken in. As the realisation settles, he splutters: ‘You don’t think you should’ve knocked first?’

That he thinks he can do self-righteousness at this moment absolutely astounds me.

It also makes anger overtake my shock. I’m back in some control of myself.

I purposely let him watch my line of sight go slowly back to Lou in the bed, who looks like she’d really like to be untied now; squirming against her bonds, red in the face, then back to him, and lastly down to his wilting member. I give it a good withering stare.

‘I did. I wasn’t heard over the music. You pathetic, treacherous piece of shit.’

I descend the ladder fast, jumping the last part so that my knees and ankles jar as I hit the ground. Robin gives chase, which means he has no time to dress himself, so as I near the door I’m confronted again by a stark bollock man.

I hate him even more for it – not enough shame to scramble to cover up. He’s to some extent performing, even now. Look at my vulnerability. Look at my unconventional lack of artifice. I’d like his unconventional artifice to be behind a towel, thanks.

‘George, George, wait, I’m sorry,’ he says.

‘Yeah so am I. It’s not every break-up that comes with a therapy bill. I feel sick.’

‘Break up …?’

I turn to look him in the eyes.

‘You don’t seriously think I’m staying with you?’

‘No, not tonight, obviously.’

I blink, taken aback. ‘Are you clinically insane? It’s over, Robin, we’re done. I don’t know how you can think we could have a relationship after this.’

Robin pauses and says: ‘Relationship? I … I didn’t think we were going out?’

I’m so stunned by this it takes a moment to assemble my expression, and form a response.

I only manage:

‘… What?’

‘I thought we were “seeing each other”.’ Robin makes air quote marks. ‘I didn’t think we were exclusive … as in, forbidden from seeing other people? That whole scene is not my … scene.’

My blood feels like it’s caught fire. It’s one thing to do this to me, it’s another to blame me for it – to pretend this is a product of my unreasonable expectations.

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