… and we somehow made it to the next morning – we were in West End, eating overpriced breakfast. It’s painfully hot in Brisbane now, and Mandy acknowledged this fact by telling me, “It’s painfully hot in Brisbane now.” I didn’t reply. She then spent about twenty minutes complaining about a colleague before trickling off into a silence that I didn’t mind at all. We said nothing, and I ate my mushrooms, and then my toast, and then whatever the hell else was left.
Jude came by. He was hungover, as usual, and he refused to take off his sunglasses. He had a story to tell, a story was about his friend Vicki. He’d been friends with Vicki for about four months now. Vicki was twenty-one or something years old and had been in a great relationship for about one-and-a-half years. One day, without any real reason, Vicki began to cheat. It started with phone calls: she’d call guy friends and ex-boyfriends and start talking dirty with them while her boyfriend would be in the next room. She’d let them remind her about how they used to come all over her face. She’d whisper to them the things she’d do for them all over again with even more intensity: the things she’d wear, the places she’d take them to, the places she’d touch, the things she’d nibble on. She then proceeded to meet men in clubs; kissing only at first, but then proceeding to do more. She had “hilarious” stories about the men she’d hook up with, about how some of them would scream like cats when they’d orgasm, how some of them had triangular balls.
The second last person Vicki hooked up with (to his knowledge, anyway) was Jude himself. It happened in Roma Street Parklands, and it was near some chairs or something, and she “seemed slutty under the sunlight” so he kissed her, and she kissed him back. After some time, she cried and leant against his shoulder, and went on a rant about how she didn’t think her boyfriend was the right one – he simply didn’t meet her needs, he was simply a ghost: he was the dust you never really see form around all of your things. After her conversation with Jude she drove straight to their flat, had an argument with him, packed her clothes, drove to his friend’s house and “fucked his friend all night”. She instantly regretted what she’d done the next morning: she called her boyfriend, crying, and drove back to their flat. She told him that he needed to change, and he told her that she needed to change, and they kissed, and he apologised for how he’d been treating her. She forgave him, and she held his hands and they just lay there in their kind-of-strange-smelling bed (Jude knew it was kind of strange smelling because he’d been there with her himself), and told each other that they loved each other, and to her, that moment, that perfect moment – it was the most honest, most romantic moment in their relationship, and probably the universe. She had an amazing man. She had an amazing life. He proposed to her the next day.
“That’s the worst story I’ve ever heard,” Mandy said.
“I don’t mind it,” I said.
We went to the markets, bought some things, complained about the heat. Jude left. Mandy and I drove to her apartment in silence: all I could think about was Vicki, and all I could think about was this thing called “cheating”. It’s a fucked up word. It’s like a ball of some sort – no, more like a chubby, slippery creature that sits in the back of your head, a creature you’ve always wanted to touch but rarely do. How far do you go before you’re considered a cheater? Where do cheaters go when they die? Is there an island for them? Mandy and I have done some things I would’ve deemed as questionable when I was younger, but now I think it’s all completely normal. The fuck is life meant to be about, anyway?
I pushed Mandy against a wall and kissed her, but before we could continue with anything else, she said, “Let me shower first.” She showered, and I waited, and I waited so damn much I fell asleep. I woke up, and then I showered and brushed my teeth. We watched a few movies from her laptop (Avatar, The Grudge 2, Fading Gigolo, Fast and Furious 6), and when it all became too tiring we lay down.
“I’m kind of tired,” she said after texting someone on her phone.
“Shall we just sleep?”
“Good evening, Sir Dean.”
I remembered something. “Mandy.”
I stood up. I checked my phone, replied to a message, smiled. I plugged my phone into a charger. I pulled something out of my jeans and gave it to Mandy: it was a letter I wrote for her. She read it, smiled. “Thanks, Dean. I love you too.” She folded the letter and put it in her dresser.
We both fell asleep, and I dreamt about death and life and death and I don’t know if I woke up in the middle of the night or not. We both woke up the next morning to get ready for work. She made vegetable juice for the both of us.