She was in a hotel waiting for him, a cheap place with a bad view. They were going to separate, that was the idea, after one last time together. It would be wild; the wildest.
She was in the hotel waiting for him and she had got there early to clear her head. She needed to keep her phone on for him, but the kids and Peter kept texting. She was with a friend who was ill, on his death bed. She giggled as she lied, but they never let her alone, the only people she had. Her family were like family, she liked to say. And him, Mr Goodbye, was on his way.
She was in the hotel waiting for him. After practising, she had come to appreciate aggression in the bedroom. Nor had she been an exhibitionist before. She'd never been far beyond the decent. What a difference that made to her life, with everything else having to be reorganised to recognise her, the new person.
Sex was everywhere, apparently. Enjoyment was what they gave you instead of justice. Not that sex had been like that for her; she had been with just five or six men and had kept her eyes closed. Nervous, anxious enough to float the world on her worry, she had run from the what she needed. She believed that this was how most people were. She was ashamed. She had been unwilling to accept the wound. She had been too good for her own good. Sometimes you have to let people hate you.
This man was the only one who liked to talk. He asked for her wishes; he explained what he wanted to do. 'Open your mouth for my fingers, bend over, open yourself. Show me. I must see.' He made her use words too. She used them back now. You see, they were the thing.
A fat, hairy and busy man, a pig, a salesman, a liar and show off, his voice more phallic than his cock. Every time, with him was an assault on everything she knew. He made her so avant-garde she wanted to bite his face off, carry it away and make everyone she knew wear it.
She was standing in the hotel waiting for him, staring out, her hands flat against the window and there were jets crossing the sky. People were moving about more than you'd think. She took off her clothes, threw them down and paced in her shoes, a nude in a cube, feeling freer like this.
We are perverts in our imagination; she was what they call beside herself. This is when you know you can't master yourself. Eros shoved her beyond, and sex is not justice, she'd decided. Desire and disgust were ever-loving twins: she wanted to be violent and loathsome. She wrote lists of wishes to remind herself which sort of loathsome she had in mind. She still couldn't understand where in herself all this alteration originated, or who you could ask about this.
She was in the hotel waiting for him. At twenty years old someone said she wouldn't understand passion until she was forty, or be able to bear it until she was forty five. Even then it wouldn't be too late. Nevertheless: what a warning. It was true, she had had no idea what a body could do. You had to thank anyone who made you so irrational.
She was waiting for him and knew that even now her lust was too tempered by love. When she saw his face she was more tender than she'd intended, kissing him too much. He had stripped her to her bones. People say you should learn to live without leaning on others. But what if they are so good for you that you forget everything else?
She was in the hotel waiting for him, and thought she might roll under the bed so when he came in he'd get a shock. He would stand there with his baffled look on and begin to understand what it would be like to be without her, that beyond here there was no bliss. He might sit down. He could ruminate.
She was in the hotel waiting for him. She didn't want to scare him. She wanted to smoke but the windows wouldn't open. She wondered if he liked her because she'd had breakdowns and been locked up for having a runaway mind. Maybe he thought people like her would do just anything.
She was in the hotel waiting for him, and soon that, as they say, would be that. They had done everything people could do together; she still wanted him, she could do it again, but she had a family. He wanted a girlfriend to share a croissant with, not a berserker to look around a room for.
She was in the hotel waiting to see the grey soles of his feet. Soon she would be giving up the thing she enjoyed most to rejoin the tribe of the Unfucked. He made her laugh but she was beginning to bore him. The mad were those who put others off. She feared loving him more than she feared death. Passion made ordinary life impossible and interfered with the groundzero of reality, thank god.
She was in the hotel waiting for him. She enjoyed her children; her duty was to take care of her ill husband. With him it was like trying to make love to your mother. Morality was where you gave up what you loved in order to satisfy someone you disliked. Now she'd discovered that this illusion of the ugly man was the best thing of all. But how did these ideas touch one another?
She was waiting for him and there was much she didn't want to know. After this she would fanatically try to forget the things that mattered most to her.
She was in the hotel waiting for him in the hours and minutes and seconds before he became a ghost and she would return to her senses. She was in the hotel waiting for him, and anyone anywhere waiting for anything is waiting for love.
Also published in the first issue of The Amorist, UK.
Hanif Kureishi was born in Kent and read philosophy at King’s College, London. In 1981 he won the George Devine Award for his plays Outskirts and Borderline and the following year became writer in residence at the Royal Court Theatre, London.
His 1984 screenplay for the film My Beautiful Laundrette was nominated for an Oscar. He also wrote the screenplays of Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987) and London Kills Me (1991). His short story ‘My Son the Fanatic’ was adapted as a film in 1998. Kureishi’s screenplays for The Mother in 2003 and Venus (2006) were both directed by Roger Michell. A screenplay adapted from Kureishi's novel The Black Album was published in 2009.
The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel and was produced as a four-part drama for the BBC in 1993. His second novel was The Black Album (1995). The next, Intimacy (1998), was adapted as a film in 2001, winning the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film festival. Gabriel’s Gift was published in 2001, Something to Tell You in 2008, The Last Word in 2014 and The Nothing in 2017
His first collection of short stories, Love in a Blue Time, appeared in 1997, followed by Midnight All Day (1999) and The Body (2002). These all appear in his Collected Stories (2010), together with eight new stories. His collection of stories and essays Love + Hate was published by Faber & Faber in 2015.
He has also written non-fiction, including the essay collections Dreaming and Scheming: Reflections on Writing and Politics (2002) and The Word and the Bomb (2005). The memoir My Ear at his Heart: Reading my Father appeared in 2004.
Hanif Kureishi was awarded the C.B.E. for his services to literature, and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts des Lettres in France. His works have been translated into 36 languages.