He told me that the last thing he could remember was licking a woman’s hairy armpit. Apparently Dave had found him in the spare room alone, sitting on the bedside table and retching.

The place reeked of chloroform. It is not a smell you would equate with cafés. Shrugging off my cardigan and sitting in my vest, I stirred my coffee; didn’t say anything; gaped down at the swirling globules of something (what—syrup?) floating on the top.

It was my second ultra-large caramel macchiato. When I looked up, he was watching me, one strand of hair in his mouth.

‘What do you want me to say to that,’ I said. It wasn’t quite a question. I don’t ask questions anymore. His teeth gleamed like fish. He twisted on his chair, the leather moaning beneath him, sounding like what I imagined the shifting of tectonic plates would be like.

‘I am not associated with my actions,’ he said.

‘Do you mean that you’re not responsible.’

‘Do you have hairy armpits?’ he said.

‘Uhh,’ I said, ‘I haven’t shaved in a while.’ My razor was in the ensuite of my husband’s bedroom. I had been relegated to the spare room because I screamed in my sleep.

‘Let me see.’


I touched my coffee mug, focusing on the slick ceramic. I wanted to secrete it in my handbag the way the globules were secreting themselves in my arteries. Hearteries.

‘Do you wax?’ he asked. He leaned forward, winding the damp strand of hair between his fingers, his feet beneath the table thumping a rhythm on the floor.

I lifted my arm and cradled the back of my head with my hand, my wrist jigsawing in among the vertebrae of my spine.

His head tilted like an animal’s. Fumbling the strand of hair back into his mouth, he reached out and stroked me.