Do you know what I think the worst feeling in the world is? Knowing you’re in love with someone who probably despises you. Jesus—do you hear the language I’m using? “Probably.” Even after everything that happened, a part of me still wants to think she might have loved me, even though I know that’s impossible. I can’t shake her. I feel so much hate, doctor. I hate her because she put me in a cage. And I hate myself because even after she opened the door and walked away, I stayed put.
One night, Marisa called me up and persuaded me to go downtown to a bar with her. I’d gone out with her only once before, to the Lion’s Head after class, and even then all I drank was seltzer water. I know a lot of people felt that we needed alcohol more than ever after the vectors, and I wouldn’t say I’m with the people who want it to be banned. Still, I thought bars, and the people who frequented them, were trouble and generally best avoided. I didn’t know when I answered Marisa’s call that night just how right I’d turn out to be.
Maybe I’m being unfair to bars—we didn’t actually make it through the doors of any that night. Once we got out of our cab, we wandered around for a while until Marisa found one that stopped her dead in her tracks. You couldn’t see anything from the outside—the windows were shuttered—but loud music was leaking from under the door.
There was a guy leaning up against the wall to the left of the entrance. He was blond, with his hair pulled back into a bun, and rugged-looking. He smiled at us between nonchalant drags of his cigarette, and Marisa shot me a grin over her shoulder before approaching him. I followed, hesitantly.
“Are you the bouncer?” Marisa asked him. He laughed and threw his cigarette butt into the street.
“No, I’m just a patron.” He had an accent, slight but noticeable.
“Where are you from?” I asked. The guy looked me over and smiled before answering.
“I grew up in Stockholm, but I’ve been living here for a while. I’m, how do you say, a dual citizen. Where are you from?”
The guy laughed. “I’m kidding. It’s obvious you’re American.” He turned back to Marisa. “And you, you’re from ‘right here’ too.”
“Don’t hold it against me,” she said.
The guy grinned, then flicked his eyes between the two of us a few times.
“You’re a couple, yes?”
“No,” I blurted out, at the exact moment that Marisa said, “Yes.” My heart jumped into my throat, and I laughed nervously. “No, we’re really not.”
“But you’ve had sex, right? Before the vectors?”
I stammered like an idiot, but Marisa intercepted.
“How can you tell?”
The guy shrugged. “The energy, I don’t know. You look like a couple.”
Marisa arched an eyebrow at me, smirking. “Interesting.”
“It was good, right? The sex?”
I gaped at him.
“Oh, yeah. He’s got serious skills.” Marisa gave me a look I couldn’t decipher before turning back to our overfamiliar interlocutor. “How’s the crowd in there?” She nodded her head at the bar.
“It’s kind of lame, actually. Not much going on.”
“I have a proposition for you—what’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, David. What do you say you come back to our place? We’ve got beer and whiskey. We’ll make it a party.”
What the hell? I thought. “No, uh—don’t you have roommates?”
Marisa glared at me: Kindly shut the fuck up, and stop ruining the fun. “No, our roommates are all out tonight, remember?” David gave us the thumbs-up.
“I’ll get my coat. It’s inside.”
After the door closed behind him, I turned back to Marisa. “What are you doing?”
“What? Don’t you want to have some fun? Wait—are you nervous? You’ve never had a threesome before, is that it?”
“A threesome? Are you out of your mind?”
“What’s the problem?”
“What’s the problem? Are you actually fucking with me right now? What’s the—”
Marisa kissed me. It was over before I could even register that it was happening, but I lost my train of thought nonetheless. Marisa laughed.
“Come on, it’ll be fun! It’s not dangerous—we fooled around and nothing happened, and I’m sure he’s protected. Besides, he knows what’s going on here. He wouldn’t be coming with us if he wasn’t up for it. It’ll be fine, I promise.” When I didn’t respond, she stuck out her hand and hailed an approaching cab. “You can’t tell me you don’t find this exciting.”
“Oh, yeah, never a dull moment with you.” I rolled my eyes, but she wasn’t wrong. David exited the bar, shrugging on his coat, and Marisa raised a playful eyebrow at me.
I sighed and opened the cab door. “Get in.”