You wake up on a Saturday morning to music: something that is too up-beat to be elevator music. She must be on Youtube, watching some kind of tutorial. Either vegan cooking or Halloween zombie make up, you guess. She is in the middle of the bed with her back to you. You reach for the blanket; she realises that you’re awake – her hips begin moving in small circles, pressing against you. Or has she been doing this all along? You roll towards her, slipping your arm around her waist.
“He’s painting Warhammer miniatures,” she says. “Look how talented he is.”
The screen is too bright and your eyes are too heavy to make sense of what she is showing you. You nod and return your head to the pillow.
Neither of you have ever played or expressed any desire to play Warhammer. In fact, you thought it was some kind of computer game right up until she mentioned miniatures.
Even though you know the answer, you still want to ask why she is watching such an odd video. I like to see the finished product, she would say, I like seeing the effort that goes into it and all the intricate little steps.
After a short time, in which you drift in and out of sleep, dreaming forgettable dreams, you raise your head and plant a kiss on her cheek.
You say, “Let’s stay in bed all day,” with a genuine belief in your ability to do just that.
“We can’t,” she sighs. “We’re visiting Emma for brunch.”
If only you didn’t ask.
You realize that your Saturday, even beyond the sure-to-be-boring brunch with Emma (at which you will sit quietly, swiftly giving up on your attempts to follow the conversation) has already been planned out for you.
You groan and ask, “Why?”
“Because she’s your sister,” she explains.
“No, why? What’s the occasion?”
“It’s just a visit.”
Again, albeit inside your own head, you ask: Why?
You will go – not because you want to visit your sister, but because your girlfriend wants you to visit your sister.
She lets her phone slip from her fingertips. It lands on the carpet with a thud. Wriggling free of your arms, she turns to you and says, “Go on, have a shower.” She kisses you on the lips, the nose, the forehead, and the nose again.
“Wouldn’t it be so easy to stay here in bed?” you say, still not yet resigned to the fact that you will soon be sitting down for brunch at some deliberately obscure café.
Her fingernail traces the underside of your jaw, catching some dead skin and picking it away. You flinch; she smiles and kisses you. With her beautiful face hovering above, and you as the sole object of her attention and affection in this moment, your thoughts blur and fade.
“This is what it means to have a girlfriend, Matthew,” she says. “Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do.”