I’ve come to the coast: to sea air and fish suppers and my third date with the older woman. She’s invited me to her holiday home, a flat with very high ceilings and a sliver of sea view.
“It’s not quite finished,” she says self-consciously on arrival, “the bathrooms aren’t quite to my taste.”
“It’s beautiful,” I reply.
We have a quick drink before we head out, softening the evening in white wine. She’s wearing a low cut top and her cleavage winks at me from across the living room. “Come sit next to me,” she says, patting the sofa and I duly pad across the floor.
Drinks finished, we head out for the evening. She’s made plans for us to watch a bonfire show: a mad, visceral thing where pissed villagers in frilly headdresses wave lit torches around and set off fireworks worryingly close to one another’s beards. The whole thing is hot and loud as hell and I get a brilliant flash of schadenfreude as, one by one, crying children have to be taken home.
Afterwards, we buy battered cod and I eat mine from the packet like an ice cream, not caring about the grease dribbling down my chin. We wander round town and she points out her favourite shops and restaurants, talking and laughing as we go. There’s something about her that makes me feel very comfortable. It’s good.
On the way back to her flat we take a diversion so we can walk next to the sea. “Let’s enjoy the view for a minute,” she says and we huddle next to each other on a bench and watch the waves toppling one after another onto the shore. It’s a lovely, mild evening, fragrant with happy memories from the last few hours. It’s a time for magic.
She turns to face me and we both lean in for the kiss, but instead of magic – a misstep. Her kisses are too fast and too short for me, like she’s tap dancing over my lips and I can’t get a handle on her. It reminds me of something she said at dinner, that she pecks at her food like a bird and that’s exactly how I feel, like a lumpy bit of potato stuck in her beak. I want to be soft. I want to slow dance. I want to kiss her so deeply she can almost feel my tongue tickling her knickers.
When we get home, I kiss her again, this time forcing myself to put some welly into it. She takes me to the bedroom and there’s more pecking and she comes and I don’t come and she comes again and in my head I make death threats to my vagina to hurry up and climax because I like this woman and I won’t have you ruining things. But it’s no good. She has long nails that scratch at my insides and it hurts. Once, I wince and my orgasm whimpers and makes a beeline for the front door:
Eventually, I give up the ghost and ask her to stop.
“I’m sorry,” I say, “It’s not you, I’ve had lots of problems in this area before.”
“It’s fine,” she says in a very un-fine way. “I’ve just got to educate myself. It’s a bit like studying biology, but a lovely biology.”
I want to say that biology isn’t the problem so much as chemistry. Instead I kiss her hand, say goodnight, and wonder if in the morning we can scoop up our smashed dreams and eat them on toast for breakfast.