Wipe, rinse, stack. Wipe, rinse, stack. Anna feels the eyes upon her, but doesn’t look up. There are always eyes upon her, or her chest; that’s the nature of the job. Someone comes with a tray of dirty glasses, keeping her at the sink. And still he watches. Wipe, rinse, stack. Wipe, rinse – she raises her head and gives an automatic smile, then blushes. He’s different.
There’s an American twang to his voice, which she likes.
‘How are you?’
‘Tired. Early start.’
The first time this evening that she is neither ‘fine’ nor ‘great’.
He has been from London to Ireland and back in the space of twelve hours, for work.
‘So I thought I deserved a drink on the way home.’ It is hard to call his age, mid-forties probably; and good-looking, despite the heavy bags under his eyes. ‘Mustn’t let the wife know though!’
‘She’ll know.’ Anna is enjoying herself.
He laughs. ‘Are you new here?’
‘Does it show?’ She smiles.
‘Not at all. Where are you from?’
‘Originally, just outside London. But I live round the corner –.’ She breaks off.
‘You’re English? You look very English. I mean that as a compliment. An English rose!’
She has heard that line before from Americans. But they weren’t like him.
Anna is called to the other end of the bar; a rush of orders keeps her there. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see him watching. Eventually there’s a lull. She returns to the sink, laden with glasses, and notices with regret that his is almost empty. He reaches for his coat, she for a cliché.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.’
‘I didn’t give it.’
He looks her straight in the eye. She meets his gaze, calm, eyebrows slightly arched.
‘Well, I’m Anna.’
He delays speaking, relishing this moment of anonymity.
Now she has a name by which to remember him. She is sorry to see him go. He is the first one to treat her like an equal, to see her as more than just a pair of tits and a pretty face.
Oh, she isn’t under any illusions. In one respect he is just like the rest; he wants to fuck her. But the difference is; she wants to fuck him back. She imagines finishing work and walking home, passing a dark side street and hearing her name, the now familiar twang.
She would turn, feigning surprise.
The quiver of excitement in her voice would betray her; the broadening smile, and throb of pleasure down below. He would put his mouth to hers, his tongue finding her own; would push her back against the bricks, unbuttoning first his trousers, then hers, with strong, skilful fingers. Their eyes would meet in hungry consent. He would enter her, thrusting hard and fast. They would come together, quickly, panting into each other’s mouths.
She can feel the warmth in her cheeks. Has he guessed her thoughts? He drains his glass and she watches the muscles rippling, pulsating down his throat.
‘Nice to meet you, Simon.’
And for the first time since taking this god-awful job, she means it.
‘You too… Anna. Take care.’
And he walks away. She tracks the back of his head, his neatly cut hair, through the crowd. A reptile takes the vacated seat and addresses her chest:
‘Pint o’ Pride, luv.’
‘Do you like head?’ Her delivery is flat.