I’ve always wondered what a name means, how much stock can be set by those couple of syllables. When I was younger, my stepfather made me change my name; he said names closer to the top of the alphabet were psychologically more likely to succeed in life. I followed his advice, dropped out of art school and ended up as a pen pusher for a media company in the West End. Some see me as successful but I’m thinking about changing my name again. This is a morning in the life of my three sides.
My alarm goes off at 7 o clock; I roll over and stretch my arm out, hitting the shoulder of the body next to me. I’m not really sure who she is. I stare at her for a few moments, watching the rise and fall of her ribs and examining the way her mousey brown hair cascades haphazardly down her back. She’s probably not the one, she’s not even the one I wanted to see there but she’s one, and that was all I needed last night. I briefly consider whether I embarrassed myself at the pub after work and decide I probably didn’t, save for scrambling around for my coat for fifteen minutes before I took a dive headlong in to another night of excess. I groan as I hit snooze and squint my eyes, rubbing my face for the feel of the week- long stubble I procrastinate about daily. Fumbling amongst the lines of odd socks lined up on my bedside table I find my phone discarded in the heat of disappointed passion and check my messages. There are a few from the lads; digital high fives and requests for an update on the latest conquest but nothing from her; I don’t know if I’m sad or glad. I push it to the back of my mind and swing my legs over the side of the bed.
Sitting on the side of the bed takes a few minutes as I’m forced to adjust to the swimming room. I look back over my shoulder at the sleeping girl and consider fucking her again but something doesn’t feel quite right and I slope off in to the shower room before my housemate can sabotage my morning ritual. As the door creaks I hear the body in my bed rustle and moan, waking up in a strange bed. I secretly hope she’ll be gone when I get back from the shower, and she is.
I don’t generally eat breakfast at home, my cupboard is usually distinctly bare unless I’m entertaining, so once I’ve rooted around in the pile of clothes at the end of my bed and sprayed myself with cologne I make a swift exit from the darkness of the basement, bursting in to crisp London sunshine. I’m probably the second hardest man in the area, save for “big blazer” who lives on the estate. I fancy myself in a fight against most of the estate youths, especially since they don’t know about my professional fighting history. As I walk I imagine their attempts to happy slap me being thwarted by my black belt in karate and smile, strutting smugly.
The next step of my journey is the tube. I always take the last carriage and since I skirt on the edges of punctuality there isn’t usually a crush to get on. I notice a woman struggling with a pram in my periphery and think about helping her but just as I’m about to reach out I see a girl with red hair grab the end of it, turning to pierce me with her gaze as she does. Something stirs but I’m not sure what and I’m unsettled for the rest of the journey, obsessed by my failure to help the woman with the pushchair. I can’t stop thinking about the way the girl looked at me as she lifted the pushchair off the train and as much as I try to indulge in fantasies about the brown haired girl from last night, nothing will shake my unease. Despite my trepidation, I make it to work by the skin of my teeth with an overpriced bacon sandwich between my hands and a happy ambivalence about the day ahead. As I round the corner to my seat my boss smiles and points to the seat next to me.
“This is your new manager”
It’s the girl with the red hair, and as soon as I look at her I know I’ll wish I’d never met her.
My alarm goes off at 7 o clock; I roll over and stretch my arm out on to the empty expanse next to me, briefly sad. I squint through sleep filled eyes and hit the snooze button, with a light sense of dread about the day ahead. My morning ritual fills me with distaste, but I’m happy, happy to be in London, to be looking for whatever it is people find in the big city. I hear my flatmate slam the door to the bathroom and realise I’ve missed my chance for the shower and will probably be late for work again, walking through the office with everyone’s eyes on me. I look over at my bedside table, see a line of odd socks, queuing for my attention and think about my work piling up on my desk. I’m nervous about working in London, I’ve only just started taking the underground and my eyes widened the first time I saw people trying to crowd on to the train. Some mornings I wake up and yearn for the countryside, the clean air and the smell of cut grass, but London is exciting. I’m fucked up in most of my free time, I ride the buzz of MDMA to oblivion and scream from the rooftops.
I swing my legs over the side of the bed and look back at the bed next to me, untouched, imagining her there. She’ll never be there, but I know I’ll try to grope her at the Christmas party.
I wait outside the bathroom angrily needing a piss as my flatmate preens himself in the mirror. Once it’s my turn I crank the shower up to full heat and wank aggressively with a blank mind under the scalding water, grabbing at a damp towel and running it over myself to dry. I stand, shivering in my room for a few minutes with a miniature hairdryer directed at my vitals before rooting around in the pile of clothes at the end of my bed and re-claiming a purple sweater from the chaos.
I’m fresh as I stride out of my flat. I don’t drink tea and I don’t care for breakfast so my morning routine is pretty low maintenance. I’m at the tube before I know it, cautiously pressing myself against strangers as we scrabble for the train that will deliver us all on time to work. I spend the journey reviewing my fellow passengers one by one, business women, fat women pretending to be pregnant for a seat and the oddballs of East London all crammed together in the moving metal tube. By the next stop I’m right up against the door and a girl with red hair hustles her way on, bowling through everyone in her path with a disgruntled face. We end up face to face but she doesn’t look at me, her eyes are firmly focused on some invisible spot over my shoulder. We’ve got four stops left and I’ve started imaging what her name is, what she does and who she is. I’m so close to her that I can smell her perfume and a faint hint of cigarette smoke. Her hair is wildly swept over to one side and she’s wearing far too many clothes for the packed tube carriage. When the train empties slightly she yanks off her coat and I see a sweat patch has formed at the small of her back. Something about the small damp patch is so erotic that I have to squeeze my thighs together so I don’t get a hard on. She looks at me then, fixing me with her green/grey eyes and an expression that says ‘Yes?’ a flicker of laughter crossing her face. We both start laughing and we can’t stop- tears are rolling down her face by the time it’s her stop. Neither of us have spoken and as she turns to leave she pulls me towards her and whispers in my ear ‘see you tomorrow’, biting my earlobe as she withdraws.
I can’t stop thinking about her as I make my way to work, the smell of her, the insanity in her eyes. I glide through the office in a daze- ignoring my bosses glare at my converse and forgetting that I’m due in a client meeting in fifteen minutes. I know that tomorrow I’ll wait for every tube to go past until I see her again.
My alarm goes off at 7 o clock; I’m tangled up in legs, skin and hair and the familiar smell of Lancôme. My stomach flips and I look at her sleeping- I trace the freckles on her back and the curve of her body, from the shoulder, over her hip and reach round to cup her stomach and kiss her neck. I press snooze five times and grab her as tightly as I can. My arm is around her and she’s holding my hand over her heart. I wish I could take a picture of this moment, before it all turns to shit. I want to bottle the feeling of flying high, fucking all night and writing mental poetry about this girl. We slip out of my room and shower together, laughing because neither of us is clean when we get finish. She complains that I never make her tea and asks why my towel is always damp but she doesn’t really care and neither do I. We watch the news and make fun of the newsreader to distract ourselves from how terrifying the world is. I just want to wrap her up in a duvet and get back in to bed to forget about all the shit I’m about to face at work.
There’s a brief time of the day, when I’m walking to work where I forget all my troubles. I hold her hand and my step starts to spring. We take the underground together; hers is the only body I don’t mind pressed against mine. I know every contour of her, we fit together. For now. She gets off three stops before me, biting my lip and squeezing my dick pretty conspicuously as she skips off the train. I watch her go, those long legs ambling down the platform and I feel a deep sense of foreboding about what I might do to her. I spend the rest of the journey reading last night’s evening standard and listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on my headphones before making the short walk to work.
When I round the corner to my desk, something comes over me and a deep shiver shakes down my spine. I know something’s wrong. They’re all waiting for me at my desk, my secretary is crying-
– It’s her, I know it. She’s gone.