"Badger" by Rachel Bentham
Strange how he took his pants off before his Tshirt. He came into the bathroom and stood behind her at the sink, both of them amicably cleaning their teeth. His willy was hanging out under his Tshirt.
It was good he was so unselfconscious, she told herself. She avoided looking at it, but she knew it was there, just down there in the corner of the bathroom mirror. Dangle, dangle.
All evening she’d watched her own body language – arms crossed, legs crossed away from him. Head down.
Ever since the fatarsed badger comment. They’d been cycling home in the dark, on the towpath by the canal when a badger lumped up in the bike lights. It panicked a bit, scuffling between the steep wooded bank and the canal, then it ran ahead. It could run surprisingly fast.She slowed down, not wanting to panic it more. Mark was laughing.
‘That is one fat-arsed badger.’
And yes, ok, it was. Its back end was oddly flat and wide, swinging comically from side to side as it legged it down the towpath. But when they got home she remarked that she’d never seen a badger so close, and he replied ‘yeah, sweet – it reminded me of you.’
They settled down to listen to Al Green with glasses of sloe gin. She wanted nothing more than to allow her heart to open, but she couldn’t even look at him. Fat arsed badger. Fat arsed. Fat. A core of tension tightened in her chest the way wet rope hardens, becoming a knot, a monkey’s fist, a Turk’s head.
He knew something was up, but he clearly had no idea what. He chatted, dancing nervous attendance around her mood. Three years together hadn’t taught him nothing. She lay on the floor and listened to the sugary music. On her back, so her arse was not visible. It was tense, though. A perfectly decent size 12, during the last few years she’d begun to feel fatter and fatter. There was barely an ounce of fat on him; she’d searched. He said his ribs hurt if she lay on top of him.
Her head knew that she was pear shaped, a proper woman. Her head knew that the fat thing was a perception, not a reality. But her body felt wounded. For the three years they'd been together it'd been getting worse. Instead of being inside her body revelling in gorgeous physical sensation, now she was more usually in her head, whipping her own responses joylessly, like a jockey whipping a sweating racehorse towards the finish.
Al Green schmoozed to no effect.
Sod it. She went to the kitchen and made herself a large latte and a scone piled with jam and cream that just happened to be in the fridge. Needed using up. She didn’t ask him if he wanted any.
‘Oh,’ he said as she carried it in. ‘Yum.’
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Fat. Arsed. Badger… Discuss.’
There was hope for them yet.