'Stop This' by Amanda Saint

Jenna fiddled with the ribbon bow on the front of her knickers as she lay on the bed watching Steve pluck his eyebrows.

“You know it’s not really very manly to pay quite so much attention to your appearance,” she said.

Steve’s reflection in the mirror poked his tongue out at her. “It’s not very ladylike to lie around in just your panties playing with yourself.”

He smirked at her and Jenna could tell he was feeling very pleased with himself and oh so witty. She rolled over and switched the radio on the bedside table off. It was bleating something about nuclear weapons at her. She was way too hungover to have to think about nuclear weapons and war.

“Do you know what I saw the other day?” Steve asked.

“A ghost? A unicorn? The Loch Ness monster?”

“Ha ha, very funny. No. A shop selling clothes made out of bamboo!”

The sheer outrageousness of this made Steve turn to face her, his unruly eyebrows temporarily forgotten.

“Bamboo!” He shook his head and returned to his plucking.

Jenna groaned, left him to it and went for a shower. She had to stop sleeping with him. He was a complete moron. But he was always very free with the drinks and the party powder and after a couple of hours of him dishing it her way, she seemed to find him irresistible. If the number of times he’d ended up in her bed in the past few months was anything to go by, anyway.

The water beating down on her shoulders released the tension she always felt on the comedown. The next day was never any fun. Although since she’d been bringing Steve home with her most Saturdaynights recently, they’d had some nice Sundays together, after some great morning sex, and he did always make her come.

No, what was she thinking. Even so, he was an idiot. There were plenty of other people she could go out with and spend her Sundays with. She had to stop this.

One week later, the weather had turned and Jenna huddled under the quilt on Sunday morning watching Steve pull his Speedo style pants on to go down and make a cup of tea. When he looked up and saw her watching he scratched under his arms and made a hooting noise at her, which she presumed he thought sounded and looked like a chimp. She swallowed a smile. She really had to stop this.

One month later, Jenna wiped the sick from the corner of her mouth then held onto the back of the toilet until her head stopped spinning and the dry retching died down. As she faced herself in the mirror, Steve appeared behind her.

He pushed her hair away from her clammy forehead with a gentle hand. “OK?” he asked.

She couldn’t tell him. He looked ridiculous in her flowery dressing gown that barely covered his bits. She really should have stopped this.

One year later, Jenna slumped at the kitchen table sipping a strong black coffee, watching Steve fill the bottles with the milk she’d expressed earlier.

“You go back to bed. I’ll look after them today,” he said as he screwed the lid on the final bottle. “I thought maybe we could get your mum over later and we could have a night out. Go for a nice meal.”

A nice meal. How had her life come to this? Just nineteen and her nights out were going for nice meals. Why hadn’t she stopped this?

Once decade later, Jenna swallowed the burning lump in her throat that appeared as soon as the twins came down the stairs in their ‘big school’ uniforms.

“You look so smart. So grown up.” She managed to croak out.

They shrugged in perfect unison and went outside to wait in the car, fighting about who would get the front seat as always. Steve collected his briefcase and keys from the cupboard under the stairs then came over and gave her a big snog.

“See ya later, my gorgeous gal,” he said.

Jenna watched them drive off, one hand absently rubbing her latest bump the other clinging onto Daisy’s arm to stop her chasing after them. Ignoring her questions about why she couldn’t go to school too. Did she still want to stop this?

One lifetime later, licking lips still moist from his kiss, Jenna watched as Steve’s lined and weary face sank into the pillow next to her. She leant over and gently smoothed out the long curly hairs drooping from his eyebrows so they wouldn’t tickle him as he slept.

“Night night, my love,” he said as he closed his eyes.

She’s so glad she didn’t stop this.


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