Without alcohol and in daylight at school, I was in no mood to discuss romance. I tried to avoid the topic when I sat next to Scott, keeping the conversation as light as possible. But Scott broached the subject the moment I ran out of things to say. “I want us to talk about last week.” I was always impressed with his interpersonal skills. He could exchange banter with extroverted classmates while making introverts feel seen and heard. But at this moment, his attention on me overwhelmed me. I think I told him something along the lines of “having a boyfriend makes it difficult for us to get together, but I really like you.” After that, we kept texting each other and decided to meet the night before I left for Stuart’s aunt’s place for Christmas.
I told Stuart I was going to meet up with some girls from school. I tried to dress up as I used to in Tokyo, but the casual boots looked incongruent with a chic beige coat. The bar was small and dimly lit, with just another group of customers talking as loud as the music. I still wished we could just have a friendly chat and go home. The cocktail I ordered tasted unpleasant and failed as an aphrodisiac. Scott was, again, straightforward with his intention, and I squirmed with embarrassment. We couldn’t get ourselves up for the kiss until the bar staff came around to tell us the bar was closing. We started kissing nervously, and then just when I was feeling into it, the light was switched on by the impatient bar staff. We pulled ourselves back abruptly, but our awkwardness was somewhat mitigated by the loud drunk bunch.
The gross cocktail I gulped up started to loosen my nerves during my tube ride home. When I arrived at Stuart’s, he was still up playing a video game. He asked me how it was, and I told him it was a good night. When I sat on the sofa next to him, he laughed at my stinking breath.