“Do you remember when we met?”
“Sort of, do you?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know. No reason.”
Tilly picked up a shirt off the floor and went to the bathroom. Andrew couldn’t help himself. He took her phone out of her backpack and frantically scrolled through her messages and photos. He heard the toilet flush and quickly returned the phone.
They met at a warehouse party in May. Summer was a retreating memory and the nights had acquired a chill that nipped at exposed skin. It had been a long and prolific summer that had left each of them feeling satisfied but empty. A friend with whom neither was close but both knew well threw his arms around their shoulders and pulled them together while they were having a cigarette. You should know each other, he slurred, hanging heavily on them and took the cigarette out of Andrew’s mouth. They recognised the fatigue etched into the other’s face and relaxed. It happened easily, neither had to try too hard and they left together. Early and discreetly for the first time in a very long time.
A friend request was sent and accepted the next morning and by the end of the day they knew enough to happily get together for a drink at her place the following week. The sex was great and the time they spent talking before they undressed lengthened. When friends started to ask, they passed their phones around with self-satisfied smiles as they took in the approving nods. Andrew’s friend sent him a screenshot with Tilly smiling back – Look who I found! Def swiping right haha. Andrew didn’t care, it wasn’t serious and she could do what she wanted. He was.
You’ve got competition, she said as they lay in bed, and showed him the messages he already knew about. He thinks he’s such hot shit she went on, I bet you I can get him to send me a dick pic. Dan didn’t find it nearly as funny as they did, when Tilly finally reciprocated with a picture of Andrew smiling over her shoulder cupping her breasts with his hands.
Dan got over it. He had to after the story was told and retold to both sets of friends and the pictures shown to a select few. Of course she didn’t, Andrew assured him, but Dan was always on edge around Tilly after that and offered her friends nothing beyond a cursory hello.
The first time Andrew slept with Yumi he felt guilty but reprimanded himself for the guilt. It subsided a little more each time they slept together after that. Tilly was in the middle of an intense period of work and they saw each other less frequently. When they did, he had to endure long tirades about her colleagues and work before they went to bed and when they did sometimes they just watched a movie on his computer and went to sleep.
Andrew started checking Tilly’s posts more regularly. He knew he wasn’t doing anything wrong but still, he was relieved when there was nothing about just the two of them.
Yumi stiffened when she saw him out at a bar. She introduced Vishal and then cut the conversation short saying they would speak later. She didn’t reply to his messages that night or in the few days after. Tilly was working like crazy and couldn’t see him until the end of the week. When she opened the door on Friday night he barely made it in the door before he kissed her and told her he had real feelings for her and didn’t want to “play these stupid games anymore of acting like we don’t care”. She was taken aback at first and asked if he was drunk. They talked until they had no more words and left a trail of clothes like an unfinished sentence from the kitchen to her bedroom. Andrew kissed the back of Tilly’s neck and she gripped his hand tightly around her as they fell asleep.
Tilly woke up in the middle of the night with a start. There were 2 missed calls and three messages from Callum. They worked together. She deleted them.
The next morning Andrew got a long message from Yumi apologising for the other night and asking to see him as soon as possible. She attached a photo suggesting what was waiting for him. He scrolled through her posts seeing if there was anything to worry about. He found Tilly in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee dressed only in his shirt. They kissed awkwardly and sat across from each other flicking through their phones without speaking.