Grunts and pants, trying to be as quiet as possible. Small beads of sweat slide down his neck and tickle his back.

No lights in the bathroom – doesn’t matter, his eyes are shut tight anyway. Props himself up against the wall, left arm crooked over his head, nose pressed into his elbow. He can taste a thin film of salt on his bicep.

Not thinking of anything or anyone in particular, or at least that’s what he’s trying for. Some things keep trying to push their way in from the horizon of his scattered thoughts. Tries to get on top of his frustrations or at least bury them in the dimmer parts of his consciousness.

He wishes for “natural heat” as her cousin liked to put it, but yet again that won’t be happening tonight.

One more soft – almost plaintive – groan and he’s finished. Catches his breath for a moment, sighs, then he washes his hands and shuffles back out to the couch.

2:40 am. Might yet catch the tail end of something bearable on TV.