I could tell you were older. It didn’t bother me — if anything, it made me like you more. Finally I was with someone who knew something about something. Someone who had traveled.
Your accent was thick, but even when I couldn’t discern what you were saying, I thought it was melodic. I tried to place you in the context of the life I drew from your stories, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t place you past the dark corner of the hostel bar, your ridiculous graphic tee with a floral peace sign. I couldn’t place you past the gin, my sheer dress, the stupid smile on my stupidly young face.
There was no hand on the small of my back, no furtive glances. I lamented the fact that you didn’t want me. We opted for a change of scenery. It was cold, and I hugged myself as the arresting lights outside strained my glassy eyes.
We squeezed through a much more crowded bar, your two Canadian roommates in tow. You bought me a drink. Matthew laughed at me and winked: “Lucky you’ve got someone buying for you.” My cheeks burned. I should’ve ordered something less expensive.
Too crowded here, you decided. At the door of the hostel bar, the bouncer announced that only guests could return. You got special permission for me. I loved the attention.
I stood close to you as you sat on a low stool. People stumbled around us, trying to dance. You asked if I would write a story about you; I laughed as if that was a ridiculous notion.
I was dumbfounded when I felt your warm hand slip into mine. I smiled. You kissed me hard on the mouth, and I felt like everyone was watching. I touched the roughness of your face, not caring about the hordes of strangers observing.
I felt wanted.
You asked me to leave, and I was beyond withholding enthusiasm. The wind was biting, but you held my hand tightly. “It’s five minutes this way, “ I said. You told me about your two brothers in Ireland, your two nephews. You said you loved kids, but only because you could always return them.
Before I could even extend an invitation, you were in my bed under the covers. You unzipped my dress hastily, and I didn’t object. A few minutes later, you were down on me.
You asked if I had condoms, your breath hot against my flushed skin.
“Me either,” you laughed.
“Is it okay if we don’t have sex?” I asked you, like I needed your permission.
“Of course,” you said, and pulled me into your chest.
Though I knew it was a bad idea, the liquor dared me. “How old are you?” I asked.
“Twenty-seven… how old are you?”
“Almost nineteen.” I might as well have said twelve.
You told me that it wasn’t a problem for you, as long as it wasn’t for me. By the hesitance in your words, I could tell it would’ve been had it not been too late.
I slept with my head on your chest. I think I kissed your cheek too much. In the morning when you put me on top of you, you seemed breathless. You kept saying “that was nice” and I hated it. It was creepy in your muffled accent.
You looked at your leather watch — it was late, after eleven. “Just ten more minutes,” you kept saying, burying your face into my neck.
When you left, you kissed me. Your tongue still tasted like beer. You put your tacky jeans on, looking around helplessly for your shirt. I smiled and pointed, more preoccupied by the realization that there might be mascara down to my chin.
You told me to just “text later” as you floated out the door. I smiled — it was early — I couldn’t expect sonnets.
I showered, spent the day strategizing the twenty-character text I would send at approximately 7:13 pm. Mostly, I spent the day hoping I wouldn’t have to, hoping you would contact me first.
You always replied by asking how things were going, but never going beyond that. Sometimes you wouldn’t respond at all.
A golf ball formed in my throat. I spent my evenings hoping I wouldn’t run into you. I imagined you and the beautiful twenty-eight-year-old women you were inevitably now friends with laughing about me, the drunken mistake. I could imagine you lightly defending yourself, inquiring: “What kind of eighteen-year-old drinks Gin and Tonic?”
Anna Purcell is a student — not only of an over-priced institution, but also of her own forays into literature and writing. She finds solace in Dostoevsky’s angst, Conrad’s solitude, and the passion John Keats eternally holds for Fanny Brawne.