By Jade Freeman

Door Handle

You’re so American

He said, “I love you.” 

I flicked ash into the River Cam and stirred more sugar into my tea. I didn’t know why we were drinking hot tea on a patio in the July afternoon.

“You don’t love me,” I said, the cigarette clenched in my lips, fingers tearing open  brown sugar packets, “Italians fall in love every day.”

Serg plucked one of the white flowers from the vase on our table and slid it behind my left ear. I ordered chips with extra mayonnaise how the Brits like them and dumped my tea in the water. Serg lit a cigarette, blowing the smoke over my shoulder.“You’re so American.” 

I watched tourists punting on the river, hitting the other boats, getting their poles stuck in the rocky river bottom then floating on down the current hoping to hit the shore.I wished Serg was classically Italian handsome, like how Hollywood portrays them in movies: thick, dark curly hair my fingers get trapped in, full lips, and tanned skin from working summers in vineyards when they were boys. But I suppose that’s closer to what Greek men look like, but there were no Greeks here.

Serg kissed each of the knuckles on my left hand while I smoked and ate chips with my right. He paid for the food and we went to my dorm room and fooled around on the single mattress, Serg’s feet hanging off, the smell of puke from the night before lingering. He said he loved me while we laid on the bed topless and promised to keep in touch even after I went back to New York.



The Thing That Takes You

Serg walked up behind me and slumped his head on my shoulder, smiling and eyes lidded, swaying his hips into mine with the house music. He sloshed beer over the front of my shirt. I wrapped my arm around his neck and licked the sweat that was dripping from his chin. My beer was warm and the club’s complimentary spiced rum and lime shots were weak. 

Serg led me outside to the patio and pinned me against the railing. I pulled a Marlboro from his pocket, a black lung on the front of the carton. I blew smoke in his face.

He inhaled my smoke, sucking the air through his nose loudly, "I want to live inside you. Be the thing that takes you."

"You're drunk." I flicked the ashes against the cast-iron. His Italian accent was thicker when he drank. Serg pulled my face to his and blew the smoke back into my mouth then followed a blonde back inside.

I walked home, the cobblestones more uneven in the dark. All of the last call food trucks had left. I took three right turns before I realized I needed to go left. I walked across the grass to the brick dorm building older than my country. The porter was asleep and couldn't yell across the courtyard to stay off the grass.

The ceiling twisted into itself, a vortex lifting me from my dorm room. I turned over the side of my single mattress and puked on one of the mis-matched carpet squares.Someone knocked on my door, asking if I had made it back ok. All I had to clean the mess was laundry detergent.



Everyone Has a Price

I asked Serg why he had a barcode tattooed to his wrist and traced my nail over the skinny uneven lines. Serg had slick choppy black hair that looked like he had slept on it wet and he was bi-sexual. He looked at his wrist like he had never noticed the bars before and said he was sixteen when he got it.

“Everyone has a price,” he said.

“What’s yours?” I asked, taking a drink of our warm Bacardi liqueur. Our street was quiet, all of the college students home for the summer. We sat on our roof, the moon and stars absent from the sky.

Serg leaned back on his elbows, “A blow job and a genuine smile.”

“So when someone scans your arm, that’s what will pop up on the computer?” I laughed, but he didn’t. He told me when he was in Amsterdam he fucked a man who called him a Chinese faggot. The guy said that was the only way he could get off.

“I’m not even Chinese,” he said.

I’d like to think I would be expensive, but I’d probably be cheap. My last boyfriend only needed a basic knowledge of guitar and an endless supply of Adderall.

He lit a cigarette and let it burn between his fingers, nodded like I had said something, and looked past me, lost in Amsterdam. 


Jade Freeman is currently completing her MFA in Fiction from Emerson College. Her work has appeared in Cactus Heart, Rock & Sling, Cease, Cows, Red Fez, and The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society. She lives in Boston. (Updated September 2015)


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