So she asked me for a topic. Being very mean, I suggested ‘backgammon and acne’, and although she grumbled that is was two topics, she stoically took up the challenge. Enjoy Claire’s wonderful response to my challenge.
You oppose me.
Your forearms rest along the length of your thighs. One set of fingers idly picks bits of yellow foam out of a hole in the upholstery. The other makes a fist and shakes.
We are invisible to the rest of the common room, blended dully into our corner. But to me you are magnified, magnificent. I hear your every breath, hear the click of the dice within your palm…then they are released, tumbling towards me across the board.
You pause, regarding me through the strands of black hair falling over your face. Behind this veil, small dabs of toothpaste crust against the pink blush of your skin. I think of my own skin, laid bare for you to judge, whether you want to see it or not. I am your negative. Pasty Lancashire cheeks angry with acne. We both lean in over the board. Your hair smells of vanilla but your face is minty.
The dice are not kind to either of us, but we make the most of it. I take risks, leaving myself open, red blots all over the place. You punish me for this without remorse and your own play is more cautious. You take cover. When you have no option but to leave yourself exposed you sigh. Your breasts rise and fall mercilessly inside that black T-shirt.
I reach for the dice. They are warm and damp but they still roll like dice. A double one. I’ve lost. I cannot reach you, your next throw will see you home and safe.
I can see you are getting excited now. I’m getting excited too.
‘Good game,’ I say, as you start bearing off.
‘Yes.’ Your voice is like butter.
‘Walking home, later?’
When the bell rings I will find you. We will walk side by side this time, our feet taking us forwards even though our faces look down. When we pass the bus shelter we will pause. I will push that hair back from your face and I will find your mouth.