They're fifteen-years-old, pretending to be twenty-one. Theirhairstyles are sprayed, their nails painted, and their eyes rimmedshakily with brown pencil. They sit at the bar and swing their heelsand lean into each other, eyeing the room. One is more attractive thanthe other. Her awkwardness with her long limbs gives her age away, butthe man approaching them now tries not to notice. He buys them tworounds of Malibu cokes, touches their hairless knees and murmurs intotheir necks. After the third round he tempts the long-limbed one away,to a bistro on 5th Avenue three blocks from his apartment.
They take a back table. He feeds her mussels and onion soup and half abottle of wine. It's the second cheapest bottle on the menu. Sheswallows all the saltiness, the slipperiness, and the tartness. Andsoon everything mingles in her head foggilyâ€"the jazz trio in thecorner plucking at strings, the fringed lamps emitting reddish glows,the ceiling fan circling languidly overhead. She blinks and tries notto move her head much. The dessert menu arrives and he pushes itaside, declaring that he has something perfect at his apartment.
He lives in one-bedroom walk-up on the fifth floor. She's breathlessfrom the climb, so he eases her onto the couch. He walks to thekitchen, where he slides three cookies into the toaster oven and apint of ice cream in the microwave. Meanwhile, she runs her eyes overhis bookshelves but she can't make out the titles. She squints. Hestands in the doorway and, watching her, folds his arms and bites hislip.
She's suddenly inescapably sleepy. She swings her legs up and sinksinto the cushions. He returns and offers her a mug of ice cream, buther arms are heavy and she can't move her lips to speak. She can stillcontrol her eyelids, and she holds them open in slits as he sets themugs down on the coffee table and starts unfastening her shoes. Theyfall in thuds to the ground and he moves to her sweater. He shimmiesit over her shoulders and then her head. Her hair is electric fromthe static. She blows to get the flyaways from sticking to her mouth.She closes her eyes and hopes he'll stop there.
About the author:
Elissa Matsueda is a writer living in Brooklyn.