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If you’d have asked her, she’d have told you that it was only after he’d climaxed that she started to sober up, that she was just a little too drunk to really understand what she was doing, that she had been once again caught up in the excitement and mystery and drama of the evening long seduction. That it was the right time and place’ their eyes met over a twinklingly lit saloon bar, the right combination of hard liquor and soft whisperings and ambiance and music had melted away all the remaining frost from the last time they fell into this routine.. That the seemingly endless cycle of lust, desire, passion, regret, hatred and shame of their purple coloured bittersweet relationship was simply turning again into its red phase; lips and tongues and breasts and penetration and climax. It you’d have asked her later, she’d have spoken about a moment of clarity, of waking up when the sweat of their sex was cooling on his bed and she’d made her dramatic final act of breaking away. But she’d have been lying.

The truth was that she knew. She knew from the moment she saw him at the bar, his face glaringly lit by the fruit machines, the moment she ordered the drinks she knew would be slightly too strong for her, the moment she caught his eye, she was aware she was going to happen. She bought herself hard drinks not to cast away the wearying week, to shatter her tight, jaded mind, but to invent an alibi, a future justification of the inevitable events of the night. She knew all the major plays of the night; that they meet at the bar, that they exchange pleasantries and pointed looks, that they meet ‘accidentally’ outside the toilets, at the juke box, at the bar, at the taxi rank. Previously she convinced herself that this was fate, that chance and circumstance and kismet had decreed that they appear at each other at perfectly timed intervals, but now she realised that it was his agenda that they were playing out. This time she appeared on cue, before the cue, for all the familiar, well trodden major scenes.

Her role had progressed from terrified ingénue, trying not to run way from the seduction scene she barely realised was playing around her, to the seductive aggressive scarlet lady, enjoying her sexuality, enjoying the idea of being in charge, being lusted after, being in control. But now she was just reading through the lines, finally realising that the part was the same, that he was always in charge; he just had to play along and she would be his victory and reward and applause. It was always his act, his play, and however she played her part, whatever difference she brought to her performance, the end act was always the same – They Have Sex and She Leaves Before His Wife Gets Home From The Late Shift. However she played her part, she knew what the role was.

This time, she watched him as the night unfolded. Amongst the drinks and ice and loud best friend laughing and stolen cigarettes and glasses piles with too much or too little ice and lemon; amongst the giggling in the ladies, the tan leather and jaundiced yellow streak hair of the regulars, the one-too-many and the near tears and the alcohol fuelled vows of inseparability, she acted out her part, but watched him as he casually batted away all her refusals and watched his face stretch into that familiar smug smile as she finally indicated her willingness. She no longer felt the freeing burn of the alcohol and the rush of giddy desire as she succumbed to his desires, but watched herself as she dutifully hit her marks and delivered her lines, which were now overused and exhausted. The scenery was no longer exciting and coloured in reds and blue,, but drab and grey and over-familiar.

But as with most things, these realisations came later. She would normally be wringing herself with shame and regret and pity for his wife and hatred for him, whilst keeping a deep and lacerating loathing for herself, but this time, as the post coital senses dulled, she looked at his smug smile on his smug face, and felt nothing but elation that she knew this was the last time. It was the last time not because of her shame and regret and hatred and loathing, but because she was bored and lonely and blunted and what started out as surprising and exciting and frustrating and gave her life a palate of colours that she couldn’t get anywhere else was now as grey and drab and as usual as the rest of her life. She threw the bed sheet off sat on the edge of the bed letting the warmth of the bed and the empty heat of their sex bleed into the cool dark light of a dawn that was just starting to rise through the window.

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