Punch Drunk by Rebecca Williams

It’s a surprise to see you at the school gate. I’m with Pete, the kids milling around, getting underfoot with PE kits and scooters. I didn’t know you’d moved back. Greasy hair in a bun, baggy eyed, frozen hands pushing the buggy, this isn’t how I wanted you to see me.

Every time I hear Oasis I travel back in time. Back to a place where I existed for you alone. For sunshine above us, fields around us and you, your skin hot underneath mine. I’ve never wanted anyone like you, since. I’m not that person anymore. I can’t let myself think that you might be.

The other night I dreamt about you. My body knew your touch, the way you felt, inside me. I don’t think Pete noticed. I’m not sure it would matter if he had. Your wife – I assume that’s who she is, the woman with you – does she know about me? I doubt it. I was never as important to you as you were to me. I think maybe you had another girlfriend. I could smell her on you sometimes.

And if you did still care, what would be the point? I’d always be the lover, not the loved. At least with Pete I get to feel how you felt. You were always the strong one. You went further, pushed harder, you didn’t care, you were so sure, you knew who you were. And you started it. The build-up had gone on for days, weeks, months. Years maybe. It was inevitable, that’s what you said.

We were at a party. I’d been playing spin the bottle, kissing boys. When you took my hand and led me outside no one noticed. You looked around and I knew then, what was coming. Your mouth, when it landed on mine, was hot and sweet and soft and smoky, the dart of your tongue asking a question. We pressed so hard against the wall of your house I found brick dust in my clothes and under my nails for days after.

Just six weeks. That’s all we had, all you gave me, before you slipped out of my hands, falling away like castles in the sand. I don’t let myself think of you too often, tell myself we made the right decision, but there’s always a question mark in my mind about it all, whether I made the right choice.

Pete’s taken the kids to their classrooms. I’m waiting with the scooters, watching you. hoping you’ll turn and spot me. Except when you do, I realise it’s someone else kissing their wife goodbye, on their way to work. Some other woman, not you.

Rebecca Williams has worked in bookselling and publishing. Her flash fiction and short stories have been published online and in print. She was a finalist for the Daily Mail First Novel Competition 2018, and shortlisted for the Blue Pencil First Novel Award 2018, Faber Academy Scholarship 2018 and the Curtis Brown Creative Marian Keyes Scholarship 2018. She is also a senior editor for The Best of British & Irish Flash Fiction 2018-2019 list. Rebecca is represented by Luigi Bonomi of LBA Literary Agency. You can find her on Twitter @stupidgirl45.

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