Breadcrumb #10

Jen Winston

The girl was breaking her New Year’s resolution. Or, technically, she had already broken it, and now she was just feeling the effects of fucking up (euphoria, rise in body temperature, impaired judgment especially so). The third glass of wine had been the culprit, but what was she supposed to do — refuse? A two-drink limit was too optimistic for a year-long goal, anyway. Besides, now they were walking to her apartment, and that meant she was about to achieve her other resolution. This one trumps drinking less, she thought, biting her lip.

     Girls looked cute when they bit their lips, the other girl thought. It was a nervous act, but also a sexual one. As hot as self-doubt could be.

     She wondered why she wasn’t also nervous. Sure, she’d done this before, but only once, and it had taken six whiskey sours and some joints before she’d felt anything like herself. But tonight, after just three glasses of bad Malbec, she was comfortable. Almost more comfortable than she’d ever been on a normal date with a guy. She liked the girl — found her attractive but unremarkable, nonthreatening. She liked the way her worried eyes carried a hint of possibility, like this might be the moment where things turned around.

She liked the way her worried eyes carried a hint of possibility, like this might be the moment where things turned around.

     The girls were both conscious of his presence behind them, but each pretended to ignore it. As they talked about the glory days of surf rock in the '90s, he walked five feet back and watched their asses, taking note of whose was sticking out further. It was a trick he’d learned: If an ass stuck out because of a dramatically arched lower back, it meant that ass’ owner was trying to impress you. Holding that position required focus and intent, so women only used it when their confidence was low and they needed an easy seduction ploy, fast. He expected a desperate move like this from the other girl — after all, she was the stranger here — but this arched back didn’t belong to her. And that worried him.

     The girl’s apartment was just around the corner. It was soon to be his apartment, too, and they were going to get a dog. He’d imagined lots of puppy-related scenarios — athletic days at the park, lazy nights on the couch — but mostly, he imagined the two of them arguing over what to name it. He knew he would suggest “Kierkegaard” since he’d met her in the Philosophy aisle; she would say that was cheesy, douchey, and hard to pronounce. Then she would suggest “Sia,” and he would ask who that was. She would call him pop culturally ignorant, and they’d meet in the middlebrow with something like “Lou Reed.”

     They reached the building, and the girl fumbled with the key. Her lower back was still curved, and now he could see she was doing that lip-gnawing thing she did sometimes. Should they go through with this? The whole thing had been her idea, but tonight she hardly seemed like the bold prowess who’d suggested it in bed last month. Maybe he was overthinking, but when he’d scoured forums for the advice of experienced couples, they’d all said to be overly cautious of the female’s happiness. “Women tend to do what’s polite,” one poster said. “To make the social moves that are easiest in the moment. It’s up to the man to decipher his partner’s actions. If you intuit that she wants to leave, you leave, or you suffer the consequences.”

     Why were they doing it, anyway? Things were just fine between them — they had fun together, the sex was fantastic, and the promise of Lou Reed gave them more than enough to look forward to. He could end it here and now — dismiss the other girl and have the girl all to himself. He’d go slow, the way only he knew she liked it.

     They walked upstairs, single file, and the other girl noticed the girl’s posture. For me? she wondered. She’d used that lower back technique before, but had always assumed it looked desperate. Now that she was on the receiving end, she realized it just felt good to be wanted.

     The girl fumbled again at the apartment door. The guy rubbed his hands together, trying to figure out what to say, how to cut the wires. “It’s getting late,” maybe. “We’ve got to be up early, so.”

     Before he came up with anything, he watched the other girl step forward, placing her hand on the girl’s bent back. He watched the hand slide lower, watched the girl turn around. She closed her eyes, and the nerves turned into something else. Maybe he was overthinking. Maybe he should just relax.

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