By: Soraya Bouazzoui
She laughed softly into her glass, sipping at the red wine. Don’t laugh too hard, her mother had always taught her. That gives too much away, gives a guy too much confidence. Be coy, make him try harder. Her mother had to teach her when to laugh at appropriate times, when to feign sympathy or dissatisfaction. It had been tiring.
Tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, she looked up at her date. His green eyes stood out in the dark, poorly lit bar. The man opposite her appeared to grin widely, pleased he had earned at least a giggle from her. He was nice enough, charming and polite, or so her mother would explain, though the hint of arrogance was evident. He continued to run his fingers through his perfectly combed hair, pulling at the sleeve of his blazer every now and then to bring attention to his Rolex.
“So, why join Tinder?” He asked, sipping at his brandy. His brown eyes sparkled in amusement, dimples becoming evident to her then.
She shrugged, feigning innocence as she began to play with her necklace, bringing attention to her collar bone. His eyes flickered to it, following the plunge of her red dress. It was all too easy, she thought.
“Despite living in London, and it being full of people, it’s kind of hard to actually meet anyone. No one wants to talk to each other in person.”
“Can’t say I disagree,” he commented, “Unless it’s to do with work, I don’t even like being disturbed while there.”
“Tinder just sort of removes that unsociable barrier.”
“Yeah, if you’re above six foot.” He joked, earning another giggle from her.
“Is it that hard to get a match if you’re short?”
“Can’t really say, I’m lucky enough not to be in the five foot category.” He smirked, signalling over the bartender to their stools.
He wanted to order second drinks already? He was eager, she thought. She hadn’t even gotten halfway through her glass yet, they’d only just eaten. Maybe he was just nervous. Her best friend always said she needed to have a couple of drinks to feel confident on a first date. She didn’t mind, the drunker he was the better.
“Slightly arrogant, don’t you think?” He laughed loudly, as if she’d made a ground-breaking joke.
“No, arrogant would be not mentioning how fortunate I am to be in the company of such a beautiful woman.”
It was her turn to laugh, shaking her head in disbelief at him. “That doesn’t actually work, does it?” She asked, “I expected you to have better game than that.”
“Well it’s not usually this hard to make a woman laugh.” He said, laughing at his own failure. “I think you’re quite difficult to please.”
She rolled her eyes, finishing off her glass as the barman brought her another. She thanked him by smiling towards him, and the young boy nodded in return. The bars in Bank always appeared to have student employees, the hours were probably more flexible than a retail job. Plus, everything was closed in Bank on the weekends, so that meant they would have time to party their weekend away.
The Revolution Bar in Bank had a different vibe to other local bars, the marble counter tops and tables implied the type of customers it aimed for. Leather chairs always looking perfectly polished and new. The low lit lamps and soft beat of music added to the tone of relaxation, your ‘wind down’ post-work drinks.
They spoke back and forth then. He explained his role as an accountant- and how he was awaiting a promotion. He’d been in his job for five years now, and had joined Tinder in the hopes of bypassing the awkwardness of approaching a girl in public. He felt that at thirty two, his game would be out-dated. Things had changed, he’d felt. People didn’t meet and date normally anymore, his assistant had told him to get with the program.
She spoke of how she’d only graduated three years ago, and worked as a Paediatric Nurse in a hospital. It was tiring hours, but the job was satisfying to her. She mentioned that she loved kids- he grinned at that comment.
“You want kids?” She watched him take a sip of his latest drink, noticing how he swayed on his stool.
“Good to know.” He grinned, and she wondered if he’d really meant that.
Read between the lines, sometimes people don’t say what they actually mean. You need to learn to tell the difference between the two.
Her mother had told her all about different underlying meanings with words, it was irritating. She was still attempting to learn the differences.
He leaned forward, his hand stroking her bare arm. Eyes drunkenly focusing on the brown tan, thus fuelling his questions to where she was from.
She’d told him of her Greek Mother, and Turkish Father. He nodded eagerly.
“That’s so sexy,” he half slurred.
What was it that English men found so erotic and exotic about foreign brown women? She didn’t question him though, that would make him back off. She’d made too much progress for that. His fascination was working in her favour, after all.
“Shall we get out of here?” She eventually said, after a few moments of his silent staring. He let go of her, looking down to his watch before nodding in agreement.
She hopped off the stool, opening up her purse to pull out her card before he gave her a dirty look. He almost looked offended, and told her to stop being silly as he handed his card over to the bartender to pay the bill. She shrugged, not thinking it was a big deal. If he felt that strongly about paying she wouldn’t argue.
She pulled on her large wool coat, buttoning it up and placing the strap of her handbag on her shoulder. He placed his hand the small of her back, leading her towards the exit. She didn’t particularly like the way he loomed over her shoulder.
“Alright mate, it was just a fucking joke!” She watched him with slight distaste as he yelled loudly on the train as a teenager got off at his stop in a huff. He’d started singing loudly in the young boy’s ear.
People had cast glares at him on the underground as they made a late commute home. Smiling whenever he looked back at her for approval of his joke. Nudging the annoyed commuter who stood beside them. She never understood the need to make people laugh. As she’d noted before though, most social norms were confusing to her, even after her mother described them in detail.
Pretend to understand them, her mother had said. Just pretend, please.
Against professional opinions, her mother had always attempted to push down what had made her different, which Doctors had attempted to rectify. She guessed it had always been out of guilt, after all it was because of what she had witnessed her mother do that caused her damage.
Then people will think you’re normal. Please. Just be normal.
But she wasn’t normal, she eventually realised. Growing up in London hadn’t made her feel any less part of the city, part of the people. She had always been an outsider, watching from a window. Going through life as if there were instructions. Instructions that her mother had given her. When to laugh, when to cry, when to be angry. How to make friends, how to plan a future, how to pretend to be passionate. Always pretending.
“Would you like a drink?” He asked, helping her take off her jacket after he’d closed the door of his flat.
It was located in Greenwich, the area slightly trashy, her mum would have said. Yet the hint of money and class bled out of his furniture and paintings. His widescreen TV located across a large cream sofa.
She nodded, walking around the room quietly as he crossed over to the kitchen. Black and shiny countertops separated the kitchen from the living room.
“I’m going to move, eventually.” He explained as he poured white wine into two glasses. “Once I get that promotion, it’ll be my treat to myself.”
She forced a laugh, watching as he struggled to set the bottle back in his fridge delicately. His grin widened, and she almost felt glee over the fact that a simple laugh inflated his ego so much. Almost.
She took the glass from him, only she didn’t bother taking a sip from it as she initiated the first kiss. Taking him off-guard as she tiptoed, she placed a free hand on the back of his head to pull him down. The taste of alcohol strong on his lips, and in his drunken state he struggled to grip onto her waist. He pulled off his blazer quickly enough, though he struggled with his buttons as he led her to his bedroom. She picked up her handbag, letting him grip her hand tightly as he pulled her to his bedroom.
His kisses were clumsy and uncoordinated, falling onto his bed and looking up to her, shirt half unbuttoned. She’d at least learned to read different types of men, and how to cater to each of their likes. Despite being drunk, he liked her being in control. It made everything a walk in the park. She leaned above him, pulling apart the rest of his shirt. He eyed her hungrily, watching as she unzipped her dress from behind to reveal the deep red strapless bra beneath.
“I love a girl in red,” He mumbled, his eyelids drooping slightly. She pulled him by the shoulders, forcing him to sit up as she straddled him. She wouldn’t let him fall asleep. Her handbag was just beside them, carefully placed there by her. She’d reached her hand into it, feigning pleasure as he buried his face in her neck.
He was a terrible kisser.
Then again, she didn’t enjoy kissing.
He’d grabbed her waist and rolled them over, and she pulled the rest of her dress off. He’d begun pulling at her underwear, making a huff of satisfaction at the red lace. With his eyes on her hips, she gripped the scalpel in her hand tightly.
He looked at her, drunken confusion etching into his features as she stared blankly. Wondering why she had suddenly become so unresponsive.
Her actions were swift, all the expression she had forced onto her face throughout the night had vanished. She sliced the scalpel across his throat, watching his dark eyes widen in shock and horror. His blood splattering at a rapid speed cross her torso and face, as he choked. She remained there, face blank and unfeeling as he fell beside her. She moved to straddle him, and he weakly attempted to raise his arms to push her off. She stuck the scalpel deep into her chest, forcing it to push through his skin and pierce his heart deep inside. Using force to pull it out again as it had wedged so deeply into his chest.
She sat there on top of him, arms crossed as he gagged at the taste of his own blood, staring up at her dead green eyes. Eyes that had seemed to want him at the beginning of the night. He remained that way, half naked as he bled out onto his sheets, choking on his own blood.
She watched him, waiting for him to stop moving.
That was always the most boring part.
Soraya Bouazzaoui is a Creative Writing MA student, who has spent the entirety of her life surrounded by books. Apart from spending the day in Waterstones, she also loves to attend Comic Con, cry about Star Wars and binge watch TV Series’. If she’s not laughing hysterically at a bad pun or meme, she’ll be hidden in a coffee shop writing fiction on her very old laptop, fondly nicknamed Bruce.