This is my entry for the 2018 Valentine’s Day competition. It’s a standalone story in which all participants are over eighteen. No puppies or koalas were injured or abused in the writing this story.
I missed the train. I had missed trains before, many times. You can divide the world into people who always get their trains and those people who are habitually late and who miss them. You can file me under the second category.
On this occasion, however, it was the last train. At least until tomorrow morning. And that meant I was stranded. Stranded with a huge bag full of all my gaming stuff. Stranded with hardly any money left in my pocket and precious little left in my bank account. Stranded in the big, mean city.
You get the picture.
I also had less than five percent charge left on my phone, but I still stared at it for a long time before I called the one person I knew in the city. But it wasn’t like I had a lot of choices.
“Seb? What the hell do you want?” That was my sister for you. Charming, concerned, clearly pleased to hear from me.
“Hey sis… how are you?”
“I’m very busy. So unless you’re calling to tell me our parents are dead or you’ve won the lottery, let’s keep this short, OK?”
“I kind of missed my train.”
“Yeah… there was a gaming thing. I went with Gary and Luke. It was pretty awesome actually. I came third in one of the death matches. But I lost track of the time and…”
She interrupted impatiently. “Spare me, please. Jesus… why are you such a dork?”
If I’d had more charge on my phone and if I didn’t badly need a place to stay I would have argued back against that. But now was not the time.
“So I suppose you’re expecting to stay at my place?”
“If it’s not too much trouble, yes.”
“Of course it’s trouble. I’m not even there tonight! I’m not coming back until tomorrow evening.”
“Where are you?”
Her voice changed, became slightly more… defensive? Guarded?
“I’m out with Charles. He’s… taken me away for the weekend.”
I could hear a man’s voice — presumably Charles — saying something in the background. Then the sound of her hand covering the phone, then her giggling, then she came back on.
“So that’s fine then, isn’t it?”
“You need a key, mastermind. And I’m not coming back to let you in.”
“Oh, yeah. I suppose I do.”
There was a pause. She made an exasperated noise.
“Listen — my window lock doesn’t work. If you can climb up to my window and just pull on it, you should be able to get in.”
“What about… what’s her name… Tess?”
“She’s out for the night too.”
“Everybody’s out tonight,” I said.
“It’s Valentine’s, you moron. And it’s Saturday night. Of course people are out. Normal people, anyway. People in like, you know, relationships.” She emphasised the last word sarcastically.
“Oh,” I said. “I forgot it was Valentine’s Day.”
I considered her suggestion.
“What if somebody sees me and calls the police?”
“Then at least you’ll have a place to spend the night, won’t you?”
This was undeniably true, though a little unappealing.
“If you do get in, sleep on the sofa, OK? I don’t want any dodgy stains on my bed.”
“Sarah! That’s gross!”
“Yes. It would be. So that’s why you’re on the sofa.”
I considered. I’d only been to her place once, a rented house about half an hour’s walk away. Her bedroom faced onto the small back garden, I remembered. Was there a drainpipe? Hopefully so. Anyway, it was worth a try.
“Fine,” I said. “Thank you.”
She softened slightly. She was a tough bitch, my sister, but at the end of the day she did — I think — care for me a little.
“There’s some pizza in the fridge,” she said. “You can have that if you want. It’s only from yesterday.”
“Thanks,” I said. I was going to ask her to send a message to Tess, just in case, but at that point my phone ran out.
I walked to her place. This took longer than it should have, because my phone was dead and I couldn’t rely on it for directions. And I was lugging this bag of cables and my games console. So I went wrong a few times and it was nearly an hour later that I stood, rather tired and sweaty, outside what I was ninety percent sure was my sister’s house.
I made my way through the small front garden and round to the back. I was encouraged by the sight of two sun loungers there — I remembered them from my sole previous visit in the summer, when I’d surreptitiously ogled my sister’s flatmate as she lay outside sunning herself in her bikini.
I gazed upwards. In my mind my sister’s window had been within reaching distance. I’d find a convenient bench or bucket, stand on it, haul myself up, yank on the window and then casually slip inside.
Reality, as it so often is, was more challenging. My sister’s window looked dauntingly high up. The drainpipe was on the other side of the house and of no help whatsoever. Fuck.
There was a small, rather broken-down güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri wooden shed in the garden. This seemed worth investigating. Perhaps it would contain a ladder, though this seemed unlikely. More to the point, if all else failed it could perhaps provide some basic if uncomfortable shelter for the rest of the night.
Having wrestled with the door, which finally scraped open with an alarming screech, I peered into the blackness of the shed. It was just about impossible to see anything. Gradually my eyes adjusted to the gloom and I could make out a small table of some kind, what looked like some old and decrepit chairs, and a beach umbrella. No ladder, of course.
But my years of computer gaming stood me in good stead. I could gaze around almost any environment and spot the items necessary to progress. This was almost laughably easy. Push the table over to below the window. Add chair to top of table. Climb on table. Climb on chair. Pull on window. Enter window. Proceed to next level of game, probably with some bonus points. Or in this case, proceed to sofa and cold pizza from yesterday.
I began to put this brilliant plan into action. The table felt revoltingly grubby and covered in dust but I didn’t worry about that. I had to roll it onto its side to get it out of the door and into the garden, and I did think for one horrid moment that it had completely stuck and I was going to be stranded inside the shed for the night, but a final, hopeful heave did the trick and from then on it was plain sailing. Within a few minutes the table was in position, the more robust looking of the two chairs was perched on top of it, and I was ready for my ascent.
The table groaned in an alarming fashion as I put my weight on it. I’d better be quick about this. I mounted the chair, which also seemed less robust than I’d have liked. Never mind. I could reach up to my sister’s window now, the bottom of it about at the same level as my face. It would require some strength to pull myself up and in, but I had been doing some pull-ups and push-ups in the gym recently and I was reasonably confident I could manage.
I yanked on the bottom of the window. It didn’t move. Beneath me, the table groaned and the chair swayed slightly. I pulled again, harder this time. This time it did budge a little, opening a promising inch or so. Nearly there.
A number of things then happened in quick succession.
I couldn’t swear to the precise order of all of them, but the first of them was definitely a bright torch being shone directly in my eyes by somebody standing behind the window I was trying to open.
At the same time, a female voice said: “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
I must have started. Understandable, I think. The chair promptly gave way, and then the table gave way. Possibly the table gave way first, and the chair just thought it was a good idea. The net result was the same. I plummeted painfully and noisily to the ground, arriving on a pile of broken wood, dust, old nails and probably more than a few unfortunate spiders.
I lay on the ground for some time, making whimpering noises. I didn’t want to move again, ever. I was in considerable pain, mainly around my backside and the upper part of my legs. My position was incredibly uncomfortable, but any attempt I made to move just made the pain worse.
The torch from above continued to focus on me.
The female voice said: “Seb? Is that you?”
“Hi Tess,” I said faintly. “So you’re at home then?”
I always understood that in the event of major accidents like this it’s best to call the emergency services and not to move the victim in case they have a serious spinal injury. Moving them could paralyse them for life. But Tess, after she’d flung open the back door and gazed at me contemptuously for a few seconds, clearly decided to risk it. She reached over grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet. I may have uttered a few pained expletives as I rose.
“Why the fuck didn’t you or Sarah tell me you were coming?”
“Sorry… she thought you were out. And my phone’s out of charge. I missed my train.”
She regarded me with something less than enthusiasm. She was wearing a dressing gown with something quite short on underneath it, as her bare legs were visible. I had admired those legs at some length in the summer.
“I suppose you’d better come in.”
She turned and I followed her into the house, clutching my bag. I winced as I moved — there was something definitely up with my right leg. It was all I could do to walk.
“She said I could sleep on the sofa,” I said, through clenched teeth.
She nodded. Then she looked at my face, seeing me properly for the first time now we were inside and she’d put the lights on.
“You’ve really hurt yourself, haven’t you? And you’re filthy. We’d better get you cleaned up before you get anywhere near our sofa.”
I really just wanted to collapse and not move again, but I knew that if I got my sister’s sofa dirty I’d never hear the end güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri of it.
“Go and have a shower,” Tess said. “I’ll make you a drink.”
I put my bag down and started to make my way upstairs. She must have been watching me because she suddenly gasped.
“Jesus, your jeans are covered in blood!”
She walked over to me and examined my backside carefully. It was hard for me to see but I could definitely sense something sticky around the top of my right leg, which was still where the most pain was centred.
“Must be a splinter or a nail,” she said. “You’re going to need to get that cleaned up. Do you think you can make it upstairs?”
“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “My leg feels like it’s on fire.”
“We need to get these jeans off so I can see… do you think you can take them off?”
Tess asking me to take my trousers off had probably been in my top five fantasies since the summer. I just hadn’t envisaged it being quite like this. Not only was I in agony, I also felt humiliated.
“I’ll try,” I said.
I undid my belt and carefully pulled it through the loops and out. Then I undid the top button, unzipped the fly, and tentatively began to lower my jeans, trying to keep a firm grip on my boxers as I did so. The first inch or so was fine, but then something must have snagged on something because the pain from my leg redoubled in a sharp, intense flame that made me gasp and froze me to the spot.
Tess looked at me with concern. “I’m going to help you,” she said. “I think it might be best if I cut them off.”
“I haven’t got any other trousers with me,” I said, feebly.
She waved dismissively. “We’ll have to find you something. It’s the only way we’re going to get you out of them without it really hurting.”
“OK,” I said.
A few moments later she was back with the scissors from the kitchen and she began carefully cutting her way down the right-hand side of my jeans. As the material fell away I could see how dark and matted it was with the blood. Soon I was able to step out of the remains of my bloodied jeans and I stood in the middle of the living room, feeling self-conscious and weary and stupid.
Tess crouched behind me, peering intently at my wound.
“It’s a splinter,” she said. “Hold on, this might hurt.”
“Language,” she murmured, but with no real sense of reproach. “Got it!” She brandished it triumphantly — half an inch of grubby wood with a vicious point.
“Thank you,” I said. “God, that hurt.”
“Not as much as the next bit’s going to,” she said. “I need to clean you up and disinfect that cut.”
“No… I’m sure it’s fine… really…”
She shook her head. “Don’t be a baby. We can’t risk it. Your sister would be pissed if I let you die of blood poisoning.”
“I don’t think she’d mind, actually.”
She smiled. “Your sister’s actually quite nice about you, sometimes.”
“Really? News to me.”
“Anyway, it needs cleaning. So be a big boy, and stay there, and I’ll get the stuff and some cotton wool.”
Off she went again. I stood there miserably in my boxers, cursing myself for missing that train.
Even in my agony, having Tess run a cold flannel up and down my leg, wiping the blood gently away, was rather pleasant. I was very conscious of only having thin cotton underwear on the lower half of my body. I was also worried that my cock would decide to spring into life, turning an embarrassing situation into outright, total humiliation. In fact, I could definitely feel it beginning to stir.
I was saved by Tess switching from water to disinfectant at this point. This hurt ten times more than the original injury did.
“Jesus FUCK FUCK FUUUUCCCCK!”
“All done now. You can stop swearing.”
I turned awkwardly and painfully to face her so I could say thank you. As she had been kneeling behind me, bloodied cotton wool in hand, this unfortunately — or perhaps not — meant that I now had unwittingly placed my crotch a few inches away from her face.
“Thank you,” I said, embarrassed, and backed away as discreetly as I could.
She seemed to glance at my groin for longer than I would have expected. Then she rose to her feet.
“You should try the shower now,” she said. “I’ll dig you out something to wear.”
I managed to hobble upstairs and make it to the bathroom. Now that the splinter was out I was able to gingerly remove my boxers along with the rest of my clothes. The shower stung in all sorts of places – I had acquired a number of other bruises and minor wounds – but it also refreshed and reinvigorated me. I felt considerably better as I emerged. I wrapped a towel around myself and opened the door cautiously. A pair of tracksuit bottoms and a man’s shirt were on the floor outside.
Thus attired, I slowly made my way downstairs again. There was the smell of coffee and she’d put some biscuits on a plate. I realised I was starving. Tess was sitting in the armchair next to the sofa, her legs tucked away under her.
“Feeling güvenilir bahis şirketleri better?”
“Much, thank you. And thank you for the clothes. I’m sorry to have been such a nuisance.”
She shrugged. “I’d have preferred it if you’d just knocked, but you’re not a nuisance.”
I carefully lowered myself onto the sofa. She passed me my coffee and a biscuit. As I sipped my drink I sighed with genuine relief.
“That,” I said, “is so much better.”
I was able to look at her properly for the first time now. Tess was the same age as my sister, twenty-two. She was blonde, with a medium bust that I found enchanting and hypnotic, and quite tall for a girl, probably about five eight or nine. When I’d met her previously she had seemed vivacious and full of life, but this evening she seemed more subdued. Though perhaps that was just down to it being late and having to contend with the younger brother of her housemate trying to break in.
“Sarah thought you were out tonight,” I said, just to have something to say.
She made a face. “I was supposed to be.”
I wasn’t sure I was supposed to enquire further, but I’ve always been a bit nosy where beautiful girls are concerned.
“Things didn’t go to plan?”
“You could say that, yes.”
“Where were you… supposed to go?”
She sighed. “I was supposed to go… I was supposed to be taken… to a very nice, luxury, hugely expensive five-star hotel.”
“Ah,” I said. “With your boyfriend?”
“My ex-boyfriend, yes.”
“Oh,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
She gave me a bitter look. “Don’t be. He’s a lying, manipulative shit.”
She pointed at a small suitcase on the floor. “I can’t tell you how much time I spent — how much money I spent — getting ready for his fucking big Valentine’s getaway.”
I nodded. I hoped I looked wise. Really I just didn’t know what to say.
“You men are such bastards,” she said. “You really are.”
“I suppose we are,” I agreed. “Um… anything in particular about us you really object to?”
“You’re all obsessed with sex, for one thing.”
This was hard to deny.
“Sorry,” I said. “We’re just programmed that way, I guess.”
“I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like sex too, I really like sex, but it’s not my number one obsession. But it does seem to be with all you men, doesn’t it?”
“Um,” I said. “I suppose so.”
She glared at me. “See! And you’re one of the nice ones!”
“Am I?” I was genuinely surprised by this. “Says who?”
“Your sister does. And anyone can see it. You’re a nice guy, bit clumsy, but even you admit you’re obsessed with sex.”
“Sorry,” I said, for what seemed like the umpteenth time that evening. “But it would be a lot easier if girls weren’t so, well, lovely and attractive and, well… sexy.”
“So you’re saying it’s our fault?” A touch of humour there now, I was relieved to see.
“Not really, but if you looked like a… I don’t know, a duck, say, then I think we’d probably leave you alone. Until such time as… well, we needed to breed and produce children. Then we’d have to try and get past the whole looking like a duck thing and just… get on with it.”
“Just an example. You could be something else if you wanted… a koala bear, say.”
She snorted, but I could see she was smiling.
“So your answer is that all women should make themselves look like koala bears — or ducks — and then we wouldn’t have this problem?”
“Well, if you think it IS a problem. I’d… rather regret if you did. I think you’d be wasted as a koala bear. Or as a duck.”
She looked at me. “That,” she said, “is the very definition of a back handed compliment.”
“It’s very sincere,” I protested. “On Valentine’s Day, I think it’s important that all beautiful women are told, we’re really, really grateful that you’re not waterfowl or small Australian bears.”
She cracked up. “Your sister was right about you,” she said, between giggles. “You are a complete lunatic. But quite sweet with it.”
I sipped my coffee, pleased to have at least amused her a little. And to be told I was sweet.
“You think I’m beautiful?”
I hesitated, but there was something touchingly vulnerable about the way she asked. And honesty is the best policy. Sometimes, anyway.
“Yes,” I said. “You must know you are.”
“I know most men find me attractive. I don’t think I’ve been called beautiful before.”
“You are,” I said, firmly.
She looked at me slyly. “You’re not just saying that because you ogled me in the bikini that time?”
I went bright red. “You saw me… looking?”
I stared at her open-mouthed. She laughed, pleased with herself.
“Your sister was furious with me for wearing that. Said you’d go blind.”
“You… talked about it?”
“Mmm. I was feeling a bit naughty that day, and you kept gawping at me, and I was pissed off with my boyfriend — ex-boyfriend — so I thought I’d tease you a little.”
I didn’t really know what to say. She saw me floundering and took pity on me.
“So, how come you’re not tucked up with some nice girl on Valentine’s Day anyway?”
“I’m not seeing anyone at the moment.”
“Your sister said you had a girlfriend.”
I was finding it hard to believe my sister talked about me at all, let alone about my love life, but it was turning into a night of discovery.