The sheets were damp beneath them. The air was thick with their musks. The floor was covered in used condoms and underwear. ‘Miriam, I’ve never felt this way before,’ said Graham.
Miriam nuzzled his shoulder. ‘Neither have I.’
‘I hate you,’ said Graham, wistfully.
Miriam did not nuzzle his shoulder. ‘What?’
‘I hate you. Completely and utterly.’
Miriam’s brow was as wrinkled as her dress would soon be if she didn’t pick it up and hang it properly. ‘You mean love, right?’
Graham looked deep into her eyes. ‘I hate your face. I hate your hair. I hate your voice.’
Miriam squinted back. ‘You mean you love those things.’
‘But it’s not just physical. I hate who you are. I hate your politics, your taste in books, the way you pronounce potato.’
‘It’s a perfectly acceptable form of pronunciation. There’s a song about it.’
‘I hate your friends, your family, your job.’
‘It’s called Hot Potato.’
‘You know the way you crinkle your nose when you see a puppy? I hate that.’
‘It used to be really popular, back when people made real music.’
‘And I hate the way you make me feel. The things you give me the courage to do. I hate who I am when I’m with you.’
Miriam’s lip began to quiver. ‘I’m sure you don’t mean to, but you’re making me feel like you don’t like me.’
‘I don’t like you. I hate every atom of you.’
‘Why are you saying this?’
Graham took out a ring. ‘Because I want you to marry me.’
‘Don’t you see? All these years, looking for love, it was a mistake. Love is a mistake. People are complicated, contradictory. People say you have to learn to love someone despite their faults, but can you truly love someone if you hate bits of them? I’ve realised the answer is no. You can never love all of a person. But I will always hate all of you. And in the end, isn’t that more special? To find the one person in the world without a singly redeeming feature? Even Hitler liked dogs.’
‘Oh Graham, that’s so romantic.’
‘I hate that you’ve clearly misunderstood what I’m saying.
‘Of course I’ll marry you.’
Graham slid the ring onto her finger. ‘And I will hate being married to you.’