The Manchester Review
Tim Scott
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      After I’d done, her fingers would go back there. She’d deal with the condom, clean me up, and then she’d sit up, still on my lap. She’d sit there for what felt like half an hour touching herself. She didn’t want to let me free. She’d gasp and she wouldn’t care that I could see a dozen places that needed make up, that I could see how badly her breasts were sagging. When she’d finish, she’d look me in the eye. One night, she even asked me to.
      ‘Watch me, you have to watch me.’
      Well, one night I didn’t want to watch. I’d been sent a fine through the post for an illegal left turn. I didn’t want to watch her be happy. She grabbed my chin with the hand that she didn’t need. Her thumb was on my birthmark. Her fingers were on the other side of my chin: they were pressing into my skin when she tried to move my head around.
      The sex became less frequent after that. It was gradual but I still noticed the change. For her excuse, she wouldn’t say she had a headache. That would be too big a cliché for her. She always liked to think she was an individual. She’d say she was tired instead. I knew that was a lie because I’d always seem to fall asleep before she did. When I struggled, I’d never hear her snoring. I’d hear her trying not to moan or pant.
      I’d hear a slight rustling too, almost a scratching. It’s hard to describe because it was so hard to hear. I could hear it. This noise came from something else she’d started doing, or started not doing. She’d stopped shaving herself. She’d still shave her legs in the bath and shave under her arms, but she’d stopped shaving ‘there.’ I tried joking about it with her one night in bed.
      I asked her, ‘are you letting yourself go?’
      I ran two fingers between her legs, forcing her nightgown up as I did, and she batted them away.
      ‘Stop it. What do you mean?’
      ‘You’re letting hair grow there. Are you becoming continental?’
      ‘I’ll stop taking you to France so often if that’s what causing it.’
      She didn’t think that was funny. I could tell straight away.
      ‘That’s armpits,’ she muttered. She turned her back to me and put her hands under her head, like a child miming sleep.
      ‘I didn’t want to upset you,’ I said. ‘I just prefer it the other way, you know. A lot of men prefer it the other way.’
      ‘Well it’s mine and I prefer it this way.’