by Lori Meyers
Angus said last fall would make a hell of a college essay. Mae didn't buy it, but agreed to look at pamphlets. Bea promptly ditched her in front of campus, heading to some new anarcho-proto-futurist socialist meet-up.
Mae's impending anxiety attack was cut short by a familiar voice. Great. Time to have an even bigger anxiety attack. Even without the downpour and shitty triphop.
That was Bombshell.
“Hey, stranger. Haven't seen you since Jackie's party. What brings you into the urban sprawl?”
Mae tried to remember the warning signs of spontaneous combustion. Fuck. She missed her chance for a snappy answer. She had to say something. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Bombshell blinked. "...Like, from that market in Chinatown?"
"Whoa, there's a Chinatown here?" Mae was pretty sure this wasn't flirting. She had failed to engage in flirting just now.
"Well. There's a Bahn Mi place. Next to a Korean supermarket, and a couple of Chinese restaurants."
"But... Most of those... Aren't Chinese?"
"Yeah," Bombshell replied. She looked uncomfortable. "People still call it Chinatown." She paused, again. "Well, a few people. Like, at least one person."
"Haha!" That wasn't a charming laugh, and Mae knew it. Think, Borowski! Be charming! "It's like. China hamlet."
"Hamlet? Like, where that teen just won't kill his rapey uncle."
Mae's face felt hot. "I thought that was King Lear. Where that prince has to carry some big hawk around his neck?"
"Albatross. It was an albatross, and he wasn't a prince, just some sailor."
Fuck. Bombshell knew things. Mae wished she knew things. Fuck. "I mean, college was a dumpsterfire, when we were doing that play--"
"Oh! I get it now! A hamlet. Like, a small village."
"Yeah, a hamlet. And some albatross sailor." She laughed nervously.
"Sounds like a pretty lousy dinner," Bombshell spat back.
"Better than eels."
Bombshell paused. "You want to... Get a drink? Instead of eels? There's this place, it's way quieter. Well, louder than eels, but quieter than here. No pressure."
Mae was pretty sure everything she was feeling was on that list she couldn't remember, of spontaneous combustion. Answer the damn question, Borowski! Say something!
"I AM A GENDERFUCK."
"Okay. That's cool."
"What? I mean. I just told you—" Mae remembered the Genderpages board Lori M had sent, after she blurted out by the train tracks that—oh god.
"Did I say something wrong?"
"I AM A GENDERFUCK DEMISEXUAL."
Things had gotten all woozy. Why had she said that? That Genderpages thing. Oh god, the comments. Many people will be unfamiliar with these terms... May could feel her ears beating behind her eyes. Wait. Sinuses. In her sinuses. Give friends a chance to get used to the N E W Y O U. Is that even where the sinuses are?
"Oh, fuck, Mae."
Mae realized she had spaced out. Fuck. How long was that. Why was Bombshell freaked out? Fuck, she didn't even know Bombshell's real name. Fuck, she had ruined it. Again. Fuck!
"Mae, I'm sorry. You trusted me, telling me that. I was acting like it was no big deal, but—"
"No," Mae stopped her, staggered "It's. Like, it's not a big deal. That's the thing. Like, fuck all of this, and like, if I meet someone who's really cool, and—Wait, you aren't freaked out? Why aren't you freaked out."
Bombshell shrugged. "Why would I be freaked out? You're rad."
"YOU'RE RAD, T—" Mae cleared her throat. "I mean. You're rad, too. And—"
"I'd like to spend more time with you. Get to know you. Like, you know. Besides the eels and albatrosses."
"Albatri." Mae shivered.
"I mean, we don't have to. We could hang out, or... not do that?"
"No, no!" Mae grabbed Bombshell's hands. "I. I want—Your hair is really cool, and... But, I live all the way—"
"It's cool, Jackie mentioned it. Possum Springs isn't too far. My stepdad lets me take the car sometimes."
Mae looked at their hands. "Do you—Do you have instant messenger?"
Bombshell pulled out a pen. Slowly, she drew a little pentagram on Mae's hand. It tickled. The sensation of the wet ink evaporating, the smell of sage on Bombshell's clothes mixing with the diesel from the street cars.
"You have great eyes," Bombshell said. "Like from a dream. Or a really good nightmare."
Mae came to. The ink was dry. A little pentagram. A little heart. And.
"Those are underscores, by the way." ◒
Lori Meyers is objectively gross. They're a non-binary queer of color whose parents didn't want them, so they threw them in a well.