The farther we walk from Adams Morgan, the more Olivia relaxes. “Sorry. I’m just feeling kind of off tonight,” she says as we approach the bridge. “I think I just need to get home and into pajamas, so I can Netflix and chill with Titania.”
Titania. The dog.
I press a hand to my mouth. “Olivia, you cannot Netflix and chill with Titania. That does not mean what you think it means.”
“Wait, I’m confused,” she says.
“I think you Netflix and chill with Evan,” I say, letting my eyebrows explain the rest.
“I mean, I just want to watch Netflix.” She looks slightly traumatized.
“I know. Oh God. Me too.”
And it’s true. Even hearing the word Netflix has a way of centering me. Netflix means not having to suck in your stomach or think of anything smart or adorable to say. It means a whole night of not wondering what people think about you. No alcohol, and no flirtation, and no confusion, and every organ calm and settled.
Exactly what I want.
Except there’s this tiny, perverse part of me that wants to run back down 18th Street to hear Will Haley say I’m so freaking funny. Even though that’s the quickest way to unsettle my organs. And it’s the literal opposite of Netflix. But that’s me. I always want opposite things.
“Um, Molly?” says Olivia. “You’re sort of zigzagging.”
“You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m totally okay.”
“Okay . . .” She bites her lip. “Hey, do you mind if I call Evan really quickly? I want to catch him before he goes to bed.”
Here are the facts about Evan Schulmeister: he falls asleep at ten thirty, with earplugs and a retainer, and wakes up at five to run three miles. Every day.
“Totally, totally fine,” I say. I think I’m saying totally a lot. I’m totally saying totally a lot. This must be a special feature of Drunk Molly. Just like regular Molly, but with 150 percent more totallys.
Olivia pulls out her phone and walks a few steps ahead of me, and I take my phone out, too. My head feels funny: light and spinny and wobbly, but my brain still works well enough to text.
Abby what are you doing rightt now? I really really kiss you!!!
Haha miss you not kiss you, I add.
And now I’m walking along the bridge, and Olivia’s still talking to Evan—even though she’s seeing him on Sunday. I mean, she’s literally driving up to Pennsylvania to see him in two days, and she’s still cradling the phone like every second on the line is precious stolen time.
That Evan Schulmeister.
So I just amble along behind her, pulling out my phone every few seconds to see if Abby’s written back. Which she hasn’t. I text her again.
ABBY MY LOVE WHERE ARE YOU?
Then, I almost bump into someone. But I feel my phone buzz, finally. And it’s Abby! Except it’s not actually Abby, because the text says: Hey! Sorry—this is Simon. Abby fell asleep. Want me to wake her up?
Oh, hi Simon!!! That’s okay
This is her cousin Molly btw
I check the spelling a few times. I don’t want to be incoherent, Drunk Molly for my first conversation with Simon. THE Simon. Abby’s new best friend. My replacement. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Yeah. It’s not funny.
Hi, cousin Molly! Simon writes.
I can’t believe she’s asleep already, I say.
I KNOW! She fell asleep watching Harry Potter. Side-eye emoji.
I write back frantically. WHAT? That is the worst. She is the worst
She’s a squib, he writes. Which makes me smile all the way to Woodley Park.
Olivia doesn’t hang up until we step onto the escalator, and she’s quiet for a few minutes. She’s always like that after talking to Evan. I think it takes her a minute to shift back to the regular world. Probably because he’s such a sex god. REIN IN YOUR HOTNESS, EVAN SCHULMEISTER. For Olivia’s sake. For the world’s sake.
But we get on a train almost right away, and we even get a seat together. It’s a miracle. It’s the neighbor guy from Kimmy Schmidt saying it’s a miracle. It’s that miraculous. Except I think I need to vomit, and that’s probably not allowed. Not on the Metro. Not on Olivia. I breathe in and out until the wave of nausea passes.
Just a few more stops.
I keep replaying the night in my mind, trying to make sense of it, and my hand trails across my breastbone. All that skin. Patty calls it “décolletage.” It’s kind of a sexy thing, even though sexy isn’t a word I usually associate with myself. But I kind of felt like that tonight. I actually think Hipster Will was flirting. With me.
The train passes Rhode Island Avenue, and Olivia tucks her knees up and rests her chin on top of them. Which is a pretty impressive position to assume in a Metro seat, especially when you’re six feet and change. She tilts her head toward me and smiles. “So, Will texted you?”
“Um. Sort of?”
“How do you sort of text someone?”
I close my eyes and lean back. “I don’t know. Well, I think Cass and Mina forced him to.”
“No, I mean it,” I say. “I’m pretty sure Cassie made Mina harass him until he did it.”
“So Cassie forced Mina to force Will to text you.”
Olivia’s tiny smile. “Yeah, you might be overthinking this.”
But here’s the thing Olivia doesn’t get. I’m not trying to overthink things. I’m trying to be less careful. But you have to be your heart’s own goalie.
And if I’m going to be rejected, I want to see it coming.
I WAKE UP TO MY phone buzzing: four texts from Abby.
Were u drunk texting Simon on my phone last night?!
And I’m not a squib!!!!
(What’s a squib??)
Did u seriously get drunk?
I can’t move yet. I stare at my light fixture. I’ve never noticed this, but it’s collecting a thin layer of dust. And a bulb is burned out. I should fix that, eventually. Maybe when I’m slightly less catatonic.
But I really should get out of bed. It’s the Fourth of July. That’s actually a pretty big deal in our neighborhood. There’s a parade, with papier-mâché animal heads and clowns and entire floats dedicated to composting. That is a thing here: moving platforms decorated to honor decayed perishables.