You know those nights when you’re so drunk that your consciousness kind of floats in and out of awareness? Those nights where you wake up in the morning and your memory from the night before is a hazy jumble of images and sensations and you’re not sure how or why certain things happened, or if they did at all? What about those nights where you sort of “come to” in the middle of your black out? A friend of mine once told me he regained consciousness in the middle of leapfrogging over a bollard. Needless to say, the landing hadn’t been graceful.

That was the type of night this was: a momentary lapse in awareness fuelled by alcohol where subconscious desire took over.

I woke up with his hands down my pants.

Let me start again. I wasn’t asleep – and he definitely wasn’t molesting me. I just don’t remember how we got from A to B. At point A, we were on the couch, a safe distance between us, discussing politics and drinking a disgusting homemade margarita (I’ll give you the recipe some time; it involves pouring salt directly into the mixture and thinking that’s a good idea).

A point B, I could feel his lips pressed against my own and his hands in my underwear.

There is also a hazy memory of vomiting all over the laptop cover my housemate had finished knitting that night, too. Oops.

Speaking of my housemate, my first thought was of her when I came back to myself. How could I explain this? What if she suddenly left her bedroom to grab a midnight snack or pop to the bathroom? I pulled away from this kiss, breathless, and said, “Let’s go to my room.”

He nodded, trancelike himself, and we both stood. I added, “Bring the mattress.”

The mattress; as in the spare mattress my housemate and I had for guests, that was on the floor of our lounge room, where he was supposed to be sleeping that evening.

You see, I had a boyfriend. And the man who had just had his hands in my pants and was now following me to my bedroom was not him.

I first met Stephen Whitaker at work. I had been working as a call centre operator for two years when he was hired. We never really crossed paths for the first six months or so; it wasn’t until management decided to “liven things up” by shuffling the teams.

“I’m moving Steve next to you.”

I turned around. “What? Which one?”

“Whitaker.”

“No, thanks,” I said with a sneer.

Andrew shook his head. “You’ll like him. Trust me.”

“I don’t get along with management wannabes,” I replied tartly.

“You get along with me, don’t you?” replied Andrew. He had me there and he knew it. “You can’t sit on your own anymore. It’s not good for you. Plus Whits can’t be sitting away from the team. So it’s happening, one way or another. You will like him.”

“Fine,” I replied sullenly.

He was right, sitting alone wasn’t good for me. Sure, it was good for my productivity but my general engagement and motivation to work was abysmally low. Andrew Hunter was one of the only managers who actually cared about whether his staff were happy at work – and he was only an “acting” team leader, meaning he wasn’t getting the pay perks. He deserved better.

“Thank you,” I added, before he walked away, which got me a genuine smile.

I considered my new desk neighbour as he made his way over. He was tall and broad and had decent dress sense for someone who worked in a call centre. There was no question that he was physically attractive, although his glasses made him look like a massive dork. Plus, I resented him for working with management as centre support. Bitterness filled me whenever someone who had effectively served less time than me was offered a position of authority. Not that I wanted to work my way up the call centre chain of command, but it was the principle. Also, it’d be nice to not be on the other end of the phone all the time.

The first thing I said to Steve as he put his bag under his new desk was, “I complain a lot, just so you know.”

This seemed to take him by surprise. There was a brief pause before he answered, “That’s okay.”

“And I fucking hate this job.”

There was a hint of a smile at that. “That won’t be a problem.”

Well. He can’t be that bad, then, I thought.

And he certainly wasn’t right now. Part of me assumed it would stop once we entered my bedroom. We’d broken the spell, right? We’d done something unforgivable and now he was going to remember that he had a girlfriend – one he had recently been engagement ring shopping with – and we would stop and agree to never talk about this again.

But when we got into bed and he settled above me, his gaze intense, I knew this wasn’t going to end.


A/N: This is the opening hook for what will hopefully one day be my memoir. It’s a personal story about people and relationships; about how they’re sometimes awkward, uncertain, and filled with heartache… and how sometimes, despite the odds, they’re just right.

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