Nadine waits as he goes to the bathroom. She crosses and uncrosses her legs, unsure how to best position herself. She wonders if it looks more natural to sit, or to lie on her side, or to prop herself up against the pillow. Just one pillow, of course, because she has never known any male specimen under the age of twenty-five to have more than a singular, worn out pillow. She folds her arms in front of her chest. Nadine is always fidgety, but sitting there with only a thin sheet to cover her goosebump-lined skin exacerbates her incessant need to remain in motion.
She hears a flush, hears the sink water running. The water doesn’t run long enough, in Nadine’s opinion. He climbs back into the bed and the mattress groans under the added weight. Nadine’s mouth is enveloped by his and one arm circles her waist, while the other cups her cheek. He’s handsome enough: green eyes with golden specks that shine in the dark and make you forget that the only reason you were even talking to him was because the one you really wanted to talk to was talking to someone else.
Her mind trails off and Nadine finds herself thinking about the woman she buys her daily coffee from. The woman wears large cat-eye sunglasses as a way of keeping her hair back. She does this everyday, no matter the season. The woman is always whistling a song as she serves Nadine the coffee, and Nadine doesn’t think the woman has ever once repeated the same tune. Nadine tries to clear her mind and focus on the person in bed beside her—Josh, or Maybe Jake. She knows his name starts with a J.
Josh’s, or maybe Jake’s, breath is hot on her skin as his mouth traces her collarbone before sticking his tongue into her ear. Nadine knows that many of her friends are big admirers of this particular action, but she has never found it enjoyable. She shifts her head, hoping he’ll get the hint. He doesn’t. Nadine lets out a frustrated sigh that she realizes too late he will likely take as a sign of arousal.
Despite everything, she is still hopeful that this night will end well enough in a way that distracts her from reality. She wants to forget the pity gazes-from her family, her coworkers, even her friends—all of them that only serve as a reminder that she is not where she thought she’d be by now. Taking the lead now, she directs his lips back toward hers and runs her fingers through his hair. This is better. Maybe tonight she won’t have to use the excuses she uses with everyone else.
His fingers running over her belt buckle serve as a clear indicator. Nadine nods, signals her agreement; why not, honestly. Her belt is tossed aside easily enough, but he is having trouble lowering her jeans. He is trying to tug them down, gingerly at first but growing visibly more irritated by this seemingly simple act. She wants this state of “in-between” to end. She is already thinking about later when she will put her jeans back on. Repositioning herself, she shifts her body so that she can take the jeans off, herself.
Nadine feels his anticipatory gaze on her back as she starts to remove her jeans. She doesn’t remember having this much trouble getting them on. Now she is the one growing irritated. Nadine can picture it—jeans loudly splitting down the side, calling an Uber later on while clad in the oversized men’s sweatpants she assumes she would borrow. These jeans were expensive, they should have been designed in a way that would better anticipate going home with a virtual stranger.
“Your jeans are so tight,” he says.
A tomato flush flares up and rosy splotches spread across Nadine’s chest and cheeks. He has to be kidding. She knows he is merely making an observation, but if Nadine wants to have someone comment on how tight her clothes are, have someone force her attention toward the few pounds she has admittedly gained recently, then she will speak to her nutrition-obsessed mother. The whole point of kissing a man at a bar is for him to make you feel pretty for the night.
“I think they’re just average-tight,” Nadine responds.
Nadine stops what she is doing with her jeans now around her ankles. She leans back with her elbows stretched out behind her and her palms flat on the bare mattress—the sheet has gotten untucked. Josh, or maybe Jake, snakes his arm around her and asks if everything is okay.
“Actually, I need to go. I don’t know what’s going on with my stomach, but all I’m saying is that I ate a lot of Mexican food today. Didn’t mix well with the drinks from earlier,” Nadine says matter of factly.
His arm drops from around her and Nadine quietly slides her jeans back up and collects her shirt. The jeans are easier to pull up than they were to take down. She gets up, clutches her stomach. and gives a mock grimace before telling him she is sorry the night has ended so early.
The cool night air outside relieves any of her remaining blush, and Nadine thinks about which rom-com she will watch when she gets back to her apartment.
They never question her once she mentions the Mexican food.