Okay I don’t give blood just so that I can hold hands with an attractive nurse, but it is certainly makes the whole process that much more pleasurable. As I walked into the church hall I had a quick look round to see a likely candidate.  Any contact would be good, male or female, but a pretty nurse with pale skin would be best. There were a couple of possibilities; a red head, a little old who was attending to one donor whilst in the corner by the drinks machine there was a tall, lithe brunette whose skin was as pale as white chocolate. The rest were elderly but they would have been better than nothing. 

After the preliminaries I was led to the bed and lay down. To my delight the brunette walked over, she had a slight remote look and to my intense disappointment I realised that she was wearing gloves; plastic surgical ones.  She saw me looking at them;

“We are recommended to wear them, stops the spread of infection. Don’t want to give you any of my germs.”

My heart sank. 

The only odour that she gave off was something antiseptic; soap probably or a particularly clinical shower gel. Her hair was tied back, with not one strand running free, whilst her blue uniform was spotless and looked as if she had just ironed it and put it on. 

I pretended to myself that I could feel her cold skin through the thin sheath of rubber but I don’t think that I could, not really. None of the other nurses were wearing them so far as I could see. If only the red head had been there instead; her touch would have been slightly warm, the blood pumping just below the surface, a slight feel of her heat. Human contact between two strangers. 

Having given my pint of blood, or however much it is, I hurriedly drank my tea feeling its warmth disappear quickly down my throat, and left; I have been giving blood for years so did not feel dizzy as I hurried out. I had taken the day off work and I had several other chores to do that Friday. 

The library was only five minutes’ walk from the church hall where I had made my donation. For a long time I had refused to use the automated machines that had been installed six months or so ago. Instead of handing your finished books to a librarian you scanned them into the machine and they disappear. And when you had found some more books to borrow there was a similar procedure; no human contact necessary or wanted. 

I used to like talking to the librarians; not just the young pretty female ones, but any, of either sex. Realised that to them I was just another customer, no sooner gone than forgotten, but I enjoyed a quick chat and the feeling that just for a couple of minutes I became part of their consciousness.  

There was never much physical contact; just the accidental brushing of fingers when I handed in my books, but it was something.  I knew that once the machines had been installed the library staff would disappear, either redeployed or made redundant.  I explained this to one of the librarians, an older lady who I assumed was quite senior, but she was not impressed and told me she had plenty of other things to do and said she would show me how to use the machine if I could not manage it.  I did not want to look stupid so after that I reluctantly started to use them. The only human interaction being a quick smile to whichever librarian happened to be on the desk as I walked in through the door, but they usually ignored me. 

I do drive, but rarely as my flat is in the centre of Telford so all the places I need such as work or shops are within walking distance. At least walking I feel part of humanity, but then the town often seems so empty of pedestrians.  The large supermarket in the middle of town, where I do most of my food shopping, has a large car park which most of the shoppers seem to use.  Even inside the hangar-like building people are in a world of their own.  Of course they have these self-service tills so the only time you get to talk to someone is when you make a mistake and an alarm goes off, and then you get a sigh and often a silent correction of the problem from an irritated shop assistant. I used to go to the greengrocer and the health food shops in the town centre, but the former closed and the latter is as corporate as the supermarket. 

I had lunch in the small vegetarian café in town. I discovered it a year or two ago after a friend mentioned it. It is always seems to be full of life with the young people who work there chatting and often loud rock music playing in the foreground. They seem to have a large turnover of staff, although a slightly older lady who I think is called Vivian has been there since the beginning. 

While the staff chat constantly amongst themselves they are less friendly to the customers.  I go there at least once a week but none of them gives me any sign of recognition and I gave up any attempt at small talk some time ago. So I sit unnoticed on one of the large wooden tables eating my leek and potato soup and read Under the Greenwood Tree. 

After lunch I needed to go to the large Waterstones to buy a book for my mother’s birthday. I could probably have walked it but as there is as there is a bus that stops just outside where I live I decided to catch that instead.  I realised it was the first time in years that I had caught one. It was surprisingly crowded and I stood up between an elderly man with a brief case and a check jacket and a woman in her thirties wearing fawn coloured trousers and a white blouse. Her hair was black but I could see a few shreds of grey amongst the roots. 

At the next stop a rather large man with shopping got on and the woman pushed back into me so I could feel her buttocks in my groin. I thought she would move back into place after the man had squeezed past her, but she stayed close pressed against me.  The inevitable happened and I felt myself go hard and tried to turn away. The best that can happen, I thought, is that she will move hurriedly away with a tut of disgust, and the worst would be a scream and a slap. In fact she continued to push herself against me as she looked vacantly out of the window.  

She smelt of slightly of a superior perfume which I found exceptionally erotic. I dared to push back in return, not hard but just so she knew that I was there, and was involved. She seemed to rub her buttocks from side to side against me, but made no noise. I wondered if anybody on the bus could see what we were doing but nobody seemed to be looking in our direction. I could not believe it was happening, it was the sort of thing one fantasized about, but was more enjoyable in retrospect. 

We had long gone past my stop when eventually she got off, without a backward glance. I followed her slowly but realised there was nothing I could say. Perhaps she had not even noticed me. I watched her hurry over towards a large post office and I went to find a bus back to the book shop, my erection drooping in disappointment. 

That evening I visited my sort of girlfriend Samantha. In fact I don’t think she even regards me as a ‘sort of boyfriend’, maybe as a friend with privileges as the current, rather unpleasant phrase is. We never speak of love, and whilst I do have romantic feelings for her, I know that if I did say that I loved her that would be the end. In fact we rarely speak of emotions and what we feel towards each other and I have no idea what she thinks of me or whether there is anybody else she is truly in love with.  

She has a large house which smells of cigarettes, although I have never seen her smoke. She is tall, with a large bosom and big hips. Her hair is red but dyed, and the shade changes every so often.  She is actually rather pretty and I suspect well out of my league so I should be happy with what I have got, and realistically I realise that I will not get any more, certainly no official relationship.  

We met on a dating website, and while neither of us were swept off our feet we became friends, particularly after we discovered a mutual interest in alternative cinema. As if in respect to the original purpose of our meeting we usually round the evening off with something sexual. 

That evening we watched a French thriller based on a novel by Georges Simenon. A cynic might say that if it not had subtitles we would have turned up our noses at it; but to my mind it seemed much more subtle than the usual thriller which would have been on at the local multiplex, and Samantha who is even less easily satisfied than me also enjoyed it. 

As usual once the film was over and we had both drunk a couple of glasses of wine we did kiss a little bit, getting quite passionate, and then she stroked me through my trousers. When she first started to do this after our third ‘date’, I tried to get my penis out, but she insisted it stayed put. As well as the inevitable mess in my trousers it made the whole thing impersonal. She never wanted me to do anything in return for her, and it was as if she were doing a slightly distasteful favour for an acquaintance, not to be talked about afterwards. The thought of her hands on my bare penis therefore became something of an erotic dream. 

As usual after a quick visit to her toilet I left feeling slightly content but also disappointed.  All those bodily fluids taken out of my body, and so clinically; I just hope that they did someone some good. Maybe saved a life. 

At night I dream of somebody coming into my room, caressing me slowly, every bit of my body. It is dark and I cannot see anything of my late night visitor. They touch me with care; lightly and with seeming enjoyment.  I don’t know if they are male or female and it does not matter. They roll me over and continue their languorous touching. I usually wake up simultaneously aroused and with a feeling of bliss, of acceptance maybe. 

There is always a smell with the dream; at first I was slightly disgusted by it and simultaneously puzzled as to what it was, but realised that it was the smell of the human body; slightly sweating and with no perfume or deodorant to hide its humanity. 

I visited my mother the following day; she lives in Sandwell, which is easy to drive to from Telford.  She is in her mid-seventies and has lived on her own since my father upped and left her shortly after I was born, to God knows where. She left the large house in Birmingham a couple of years later and after moving round the West Midlands eventually settled in a small flat on the outskirts of Sandwell about ten years ago. 

A small, dark woman; she is cold and austere and probably always was even before my father left her. The few photographs that she has from her youth and the early years of her marriage show an aloof young woman, always seeming to be at a distance from whoever she is with. And yet of all the people I know she is the only one I truly love, without wanting anything in return, which is a good job really because she has very little to offer. 

We sat opposite each other drinking Darjeeling tea and I gave her, her present. Her sitting room was filled with books most of which were my father’s but which she had kept with her as she moved from house to house. This is her best room where she entertains guests. When she is on her own she sits in a cosier back room watching television and smoking. 

We talked about this and that and then sat in silence. I do not get bored easily; living on my own I have learnt to pass time and I enjoy the companionship we share. However I realised after a while that whilst I was happy enough she was clearly getting bored; her fingers were tapping and she kept looking above my head at the plain clock on the wall, clearly I was stopping her watching a favourite television programme or she was just bored.  I got the hint, and said I had to get back and prepared to leave. 

As I left the flat, she bent her face forward toward me at an angle, I was at first nonplussed then realised what she wanted so I planted a kiss on her rather withered cheek; skin against skin.