“Can you grab that?” She motions her head aggressively towards the opposite corner of the bed. I reach over and grab the sheet just before the elastic launches back towards her, and successfully tuck the restless material over the corner of the mattress. She does the same, and stands up mildly panting, her hands on her hips and puffing cool air up towards her forehead. She walks back over to the rumpled pile of our old bedding on the floor and lifts it up. The fabric fills her arms and clusters around her face.
“I’ve never understood why they always make those things so fucking hard to put on,” she says as she walks out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. The slam of the door cuts off the last part of her sentence but I know that’s what she said. I hear the eventual rumble of the washing machine start as I throw the duvet back on the bed.
When she returns I’m staring at a selection of books scattered out on the freshly laid sheets. She walks over to stand next to me, hand absentmindedly resting on my lower back. I can feel her opinion rising in the silence.
“Don’t bring the Dan Brown. I’m begging you.”
“You said you liked the Da Vinci Code.”
“I like Tom Hanks.”
“No, you said you liked the book too.”
“I read it when I was like, 11.”
“I’ll happily accept that I have the same reading level as 11 year old you.”
“Are you sure? I didn’t get my period until I was 14. 11 year old me knew nothing.”
I pause. “I like it.”
“Admit that Inferno is a disgrace.”
“Felicity Jones was good.”
We maintain eye contact as I pick up the book. She smiles as I put it in my bag.
She shakes her head, piling up the rejected books and walking them back over to the bookcase.
“Tom Hanks was better.” She says to the colourful spines, filling the gaps with the books I’m not clever enough to enjoy. Once they’ve all been replaced, I realise the one in my bag is the only book in the whole flat she didn’t buy.