All we could hear were faint scratches; nails gently scraping across the dry wood. It was all we had heard for a while, and we couldn’t pinpoint the source. It was dark — the electricity had been disconnected for years. Opening the curtains didn’t help.
A stale smell hogged the air — the stench of a dog food factory across the road seeping through the boarded-up window.
Dogs gotta eat too, I guess, Gina said.
She kicked an old, empty box in front of her and gravitated towards the corner of the room. She found an old picnic rug and two mouldy pillows on top of a pile of other items: old clothes, dirty rags, and empty paint tins. She spread out the rug and placed the pillows at the top, as if she were making a bed.
The sentiment was sweet, but it was still a dirty rug and two mouldy pillows on the floor of an empty house, next to a dog food factory.
She took her jumper off and laid it on the rug for extra comfort.
She looked at me and waited.
Come on, she said, smiling.
I walked over, took my jumper off as well and put it down like she had. I hesitated as I lent back to put my head down.
Don’t be a prude, she said to me, still smiling, already laying on her back.
I could see the shape of her breasts through her loose singlet top.
Come on, get it out. I’ve been waiting all day for this, she said.
I hesitated again, and asked her if she was sure.
She told me she’d always wanted to try it. She sat up as I did. I reached down and pulled it out.
Is that it? She asked.
Yeah, why, what were you expecting?
Something a little bigger perhaps, she said. Am I going to feel anything?
Yeah, as long as you do it right. Is this is your first time?
I brought it to my mouth and lit the end, inhaled and then blew the smoke into her face. She coughed a little, did that thing with her nose that makes her look really cute. Just breath it in, like you’re breathing in air from your mouth, I said.
She took it from me, placed it between her lips and inhaled. She inhaled and held it in and then let out a cloud of smoke into my face.
You’re a professional, I said.
We passed it back and forth until it was finished, and then we laid back and talked. She put her hand on mine and stroked my palm with her fingers. We could still hear the soft scratches coming from the ceiling.
What do you think it is? She asked me.
Probably a possum or something, I said.
We should save it. It will probably die.
That’s life, I told her. We can’t save everything.
She turned to me and smiled.
That’s horrible, she said. You have to take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how meaningless it may seem.
Okay, I said, and leaned in and kissed her on the lips.
As I pulled away, her eyes were closed. I watched her and a few seconds later she opened them, looked at me, let out a sigh, and put her head back down on the pillow.
I think I’m high, she whispered.
So am I, I whispered back.