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She thought he was going to go in for a kiss and prepared to duck and offer him her cheek, but instead of kissing her on the mouth he took her by the arm and kissed her gently on the forehead, as though she were something precious. “I will see you soon.”On the walk back to her dorm, she was filled with a sparkly lightness that she recognized as the sign of an incipient crush.
While she was home over break, they texted nearly non-stop, not only jokes but little updates about their days. “His name is Robert, and I met him at the movie theatre.
He was wearing khakis and a button-down shirt.“So, do you want to go get a drink?
” he asked when they got back to the car, as if being polite were an obligation that had been imposed on him.
” she said.“If you want,” he said.“If you want” was such an unpleasant response that she sat silently in the car until he poked her leg and said, “What are you sulking about? “I’m just a little tired.”“I can take you home.”“No, I could use a drink, after that movie.” Even though it had been playing at the mainstream theatre, the film he’d chosen was a very depressing drama about the Holocaust, so inappropriate for a first date that when he suggested it she said, “Lol r u serious,” and he made some joke about how he was sorry that he’d misjudged her taste and he could take her to a romantic comedy instead.
But now, when she said that about the movie, he winced a little, and a totally different interpretation of the night’s events occurred to her.
There was a line to get inside, and, as they waited, she grew fidgety trying to figure out how to tell him what she needed to tell him, but she couldn’t, so when the bouncer asked to see her I. Robert had gone ahead of her, not noticing what was playing out behind him. But, when Robert saw her face crumpling, a kind of magic happened. He kissed the top of her head, and she laughed and wiped her tears away.“I can’t believe I’m crying because I didn’t get into a bar,” she said.At first, she deflected this with another joke, because she really did have to study, but he said, “No, I’m serious, stop fooling around and come now,” so she put a jacket over her pajamas and met him at the 7-Eleven. He greeted her without ceremony, as though he saw her every day, and took her inside to choose some snacks.The store didn’t have Red Vines, so he bought her a Cherry Coke Slurpee and a bag of Doritos and a novelty lighter shaped like a frog with a cigarette in its mouth.“Thank you for my presents,” she said, when they were back outside.When Margot returned to campus, she was eager to see Robert again, but he turned out to be surprisingly hard to pin down. “I promise I will c u soon.” Margot didn’t like this; it felt as if the dynamic had shifted out of her favor, and when eventually he did ask her to go to a movie she agreed right away.
The movie he wanted to see was playing at the theatre where she worked, but she suggested that they see it at the big multiplex just outside town instead; students didn’t go there very often, because you needed to drive.Before five minutes had gone by, she became wildly uncomfortable, and, as they got on the highway, it occurred to her that he could take her someplace and rape and murder her; she hardly knew anything about him, after all.