We’ve been drunk since we arrived in Budapest. Partly because life is more fun with her when I’m too wasted to see how mean she is, and partly because we were almost in a plane crash on our way from London and had to do an emergency landing. Now we feel the need to carpe diem the shit out of our time in the Castle District one glass of whiskey at a time.
We’re in a ladies’ restroom in a swanky Hungarian hotel. You know the kind—marble sinks, lots of mirrors; warm lighting that makes even the most blemished skin beautiful. I am stoned, in lust, and pushed up against the wall, next to a potpourri dish, by a probably more-than-just-friend kind of friend. I followed her on this Eastern European vacation under the pretense that we were both secretly in love with the other and that traveling transcontinental would help her understand she can’t live without me.
My back is against the wall, literally, and probably metaphorically, too. My more than friend, this girl with dark circles under her eyes and acne scars and a thin wide mouth is twisting my nipples. I think these dark circles make her mysterious—She stays up all night editing film! She’s too tortured to sleep! Deep thinker! I don’t know how her hand got inside of my shirt, but now that it’s there I’m afraid to move, afraid to disturb the fragility of the moment. It feels like my veins are pumping fire and not blood. I smell her skin and it smells like torn grass and wet hair and something dirty that could come off with kissing.
“Listen,” she says with these big, complicated eyes. Every cell in my body stands at attention. I don’t dare breath. I listen. Her hands on my shoulders weigh maybe 30 pounds each. “I like you, okay?”
This admission makes me want to eat the bowl of potpourri next to us. I want to put a roll of toilet paper in my mouth. I want to lick her face. But she’s not done. She’s got more to say.
“I like you, but I’m not trying to be your girlfriend.”
Girlfriend. Who said anything about girlfriend? I just wanted the two of us to go everywhere together and sleep next to each other naked and wear each other’s underwear and maybe get married one day.
“I don’t want to be your girlfriend either,” I say.
This woman had come to Europe to take a floral design class in Paris. She wanted to start a business where girls in skirts deliver flower subscriptions on bicycles. This is how she was going to make it rich, support her film habit. Since we’d be continental, she’d gone through two rolls of Super 8mm. I hardly recognize her without a camera to her face. I am contributing with my own creative project. One poem for each day we are in Europe. So far all of my poems are about this woman and her surfer hair and her acne scars and her thin wide mouth and how I think she smells like a handful of torn grass.
“I’m just telling you,” she says. “You’re great, but this is not what this is.”
She leans in so close you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between us and then we are kissing. She kisses me long and hard and sexy and long and hard. I wonder if there’ a support group for this? Kissing someone that’s in front of you while simultaneously missing them? I put my fingers in her surfer hair. I think maybe I can get all the way inside her mouth and just stay there.
I open my eyes and watch us in the wall of mirrors. I can see us from all angles. Her ass looks great. This is what it looks like to make out with a woman, I think to myself. This is what it looks like to make out with a woman. Thisiswhatitlooksliketomakeoutwithawoman.
Someone walks into the bathroom, and our moment is over as quickly as it started. We stop kissing. The intruder is all wet, because it’s raining outside. She is without umbrella. She goes into the bathroom stall and farts while she’s peeing.
It’s New Years Eve, and I’m thinking there’s a party out there we’re supposed to go to. There’s a whole world getting ready to be different. We’re late for something we don’t even know about yet.
I say, “We almost died today,” meaning in the plane crash.
She says, “No we didn’t,” and how can you argue with that?
Genevieve Hudson writes and makes her home in Portland, OR. Her work has recently been published in Tin House (online), Word Riot, Thought Catalog, The Collagist, and NANO Fiction. She serves as the nonfiction editor of the Portland Review.