Paul Schiernecker

Mental Rolodex

“What are you thinking about?” she asks from the passenger seat, turning to face me despite the obvious restriction of the seatbelt. She tries to make the gesture look natural, but I clock the jarring motion out of the corner of my eye.

          The Rolodex that is my brain slows, hitting a number of fucked up things it flips by regularly before coming to a stop:

          Marianne Faithfull’s Mars Bar.

          The end of Blackadder Goes Forth.

          Scat porn.

          I try to fathom something profound to say. Does the situation call for it? I offered her a lift home because the idea of letting a girl take public transport at this time of night sends my anxiety off in strange, new directions.

          “I wasn’t thinking of anything,” I say, I lie. “What were you thinking about?”

          “I think we should have sex,” she says too quickly. I realise she was waiting for me to shut up so she could get it out, like it was playing on her mind.

          I drive on in silence. The streetlights overhead remind me of the closing scenes from any number of films I may have seen. They distract me from her intentions. As does the radio. I turn it down, phasing out Paul Simon’s Gumboots.

          “You don’t feel you could love me, but I feel you could. Does that make you uncomfortable?” she asks, clearly hoping it does. I watch her sweatered chest heave up and her thighs part slightly. It doesn’t make me anything. I’m never going to reveal that. It’s not the way we play the game. Instead I count the white lines that separate the right-hand lane in which we ride from the other. I make it to twenty before I feel sick and tune back into the conversation with an official statement.

          “I think that’s a bad idea. I mean, you’re dating one of my friends.”

          “Was dating. Past tense.”

          “That doesn’t make a lot of difference to me.”

          “It’s a world away,” she says with a choke, rolling down the window to exhale the blue raspberry vape smoke she was holding down.

          The Rolodex tips forward and accelerates. The pair of us sit in silence until I pull up outside her house. She unbuckles her belt and I’m not sure if she will kiss me or just get out. I’m undecided on my response either way. I often wonder what forces me to make the decisions I do, perhaps some desire to be separate from the body which carries out these acts.

          “Just think about it,” she says, and goes to hug me. I place a finger and thumb on either side of her chin and tip her face up to mine. We kiss and the Rolodex picks up once more. I feel nothing.



Paul Schiernecker is not only a fairly terrible human being, but also a writer from the UK. He collects fridge magnets from places he visits and enjoys leaving parties without saying goodbye.