Previous installments of Exchange Student can be found here.
The pub is quiet and warm when I arrive. I purchase a stout and wend my way toward a table I discovered a couple of days ago. It’s secluded, highly undesirable except for couples who want to snog, but it offers the advantage of seeing without being seen.
Eddie arrives with a new girl with gleaming blond hair, wearing a very short pleated skirt and ankle boots. Her naked legs glow white. She clings to him like plastic wrap, her fingers sketching his face, running over his nose, his lips, his ear, his eyebrows, her breasts press against his arm. A contented smile plays on his lips.
They choose a large table in the center near the fire. She sits, pulls out her mobile and swishes her finger over it while he orders drinks at the bar. He leans on his forearms and glances around as he must have the first night he spoke to me, but here in my corner, I know he can’t see me. He returns to the table with a pitcher of beer and two pint glasses. Even before anyone else has shown up, they plow through the pitcher. Her giggles grow louder, her gestures explicit.
Others join them. I recognize Arthur Murphy, the young man who will play Tom Wingfield in our play. He too watches Eddie with desire, the way one would watch a star burning too brightly and desiring its warmth alone. And Eddie is the sun at the table and everyone else a satellite.
Over the evening, they grow drunker, more boisterous, unruly, but the pub’s management seems not to care and the other patrons mostly disregard them as if it is routine.
Some of them disappear, to the restrooms or outside for a smoke, I don’t know. Some return staggering worse than when they left and I think that they must be using, but I know little about drugs and their effects as I never hung around with that fringe of the drama geek crowd.
When Eddie and a tall brunette leave the table, I decide to make my move so that he wouldn’t know that I had been there the entire time. On my way out, I head to the restroom.
“Don’t use a condom,” a woman’s voice says. It’s hard to tell which room the voice rises from.
I open the door to the ladies to see the brunette sitting on the counter, her skirt wedged around her waist with Eddie between her legs as he tries to slip a condom on. They both turn toward me, bleary eyed.
“Get the fuck out,” the woman says, then grabs a stack of paper towels and launches them at me.
“Posh,” Eddie says. It’s a strange, soft murmur. His lovely eyes are streaked with red, his gaze unnatural.
Tears sting my eyes. For him? Me?
A fine mist slides over me as I walk home, my arms hugging my body, my brain seared with the image of Eddie, welcomed between firm white thighs, which belong to me.