He followed her into the apartment and looked around the room; it was different from what he imagined; it added to his attraction. She was looking at him, seemed amused by his presence. He tried to read her eyes, somehow they looked greener today, but maybe that was just because of the color of her sweater. He was distracted, he had come here on a whim. If the train hadn’t been an express, he would have gotten off at the first stop, but now he found himself staring at the stains on her dirty carpet.
She got them a beer from the fridge and started going through her record collection, “ordered alphabetically by decade,” she said, not without some pride. As she found what she was looking for, he observed her carefully perform the ritual of putting on a record: the inner sleeve slides out, the smooth vinyl a perfect black sun balanced between two fingers. The arm falls slow motion; a crackle, some static, the groove picks up, the silence broken; a wave of nostalgia, thoughts student life filled with delayed teenage angst. They sat; listening, drinking. “Did he know the Monty Python Argument sketch?”, she confessed her fantasy of having a fight with him; a slight irritation escalating into a full blown shouting match. There was a familiarity about his character that reminded her of home, ambiguous yet safe.
“Where did it actually start?”, she couldn’t remember. There was that time she had almost spoken out, edged on by an alcoholic fatalism, it was the same thing now. Dutch courage, a sense of abandon normally kept in check; everything else had been postponement, the moment was there. They were alone, no witnesses, just them and their fantasies rushing through their minds. He had broken through the wall of illusion, by coming here he had made it a real possibility, fragile and dangerous. It was too late to stop, but still too early to enjoy it.