Max woke up and, for a moment, wondered where he was. This wasn’t his bedroom. He felt someone move beside him, and heard a woman yawn.
“Becky?” he thought. He turned to look, but what he saw brought the memories of the previous night jolting violently back into his head.
The form of a woman’s body was outlined beneath the sheets, but where the sheets ended there was nothing, just a dent in the pillow where her head would have been. The sight filled him with horror and he pushed himself away from her, towards the edge of the bed, unable to understand how he could have made love to something so grotesque.
“Max, darling. Thank you for a wonderful night. Are you ready for some more fun?”
He saw Diane’s arms reaching under the covers towards him. He pushed himself further away from her. And fell onto the floor.
“I guess not,” she giggled. “Poor boy. I must have exhausted you.”
She threw the sheets back and got out of the bed. Max tensed in terror, hoping she wasn’t sneaking up on him. He only relaxed when he saw a cream silk dressing-gown lift itself from a hook on the bedroom door, and wrap itself around Diane’s body. He was glad he could see where she was now, but there was something about the sight of clothes being worn by empty air that wasn’t natural, wasn’t right.
He tried to look away, so he wouldn’t have to see it any more. His clothes were folded on a nearby chair but while he put them on, he found himself peeking back at Diane out of the corner of his eye. That reminded him of something.
“Last night, when we were making love, I could see myself.”
“Of course, silly. You’re not the invisible one.”
“No. I mean I could see… myself… inside you. But the food you ate last night disappeared as soon as it entered your mouth.”
“That’s because the food wasn’t alive. You stayed visible because you are alive. You’re also going to be late for work,” she added.
“Alright, but remember our deal? Last night was it. Now everything’s over between us. Don’t think about following me to work, or anything like that.”
“Don’t be silly. I’ve seen your work, remember? Why would I want to hang around that dirty, dusty warehouse all day?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you’d be playing invisible tricks on the other people in the office. Something like that?”
“Please, this is real life, not the sad fantasy of some lonely anorak on the Internet! Listen, it’s been over five years since the Incident. After all that time, the novelty value of hiding people’s pens has worn off a little!”
After he had left, Diane went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee. The pursuit of Max was suddenly going easier than she had expected. True, he still didn’t believe that they really belonged together, but that was only a matter of time.
There was also the question of that deal he had made with her yesterday evening. She had promised to stay out of his life in return for his accepting her as his true love for the night. But could one night, no matter how fun, really be a substitute for a lifetime together?
She smiled to herself, not that anyone would have seen the smile if they’d been there. Just as Max hadn’t been able to see her cross her fingers when she’d made that promise to him…
Continue to chapter six