CN: Consent, rape,

being in the closet


‘I like your accent’, he says, and reaches for my fly. I freeze. The microwave at home should have caught fire by


Or maybe it won’t be the microwave. It could be burglary this time, or Lina getting mugged down Cowley

Road. Or, come to think of it, an especially grisly piece of roadkill. The possibilities are endless. My brain

examines each in turn, delighting in the irony. Then I’m distracted by his breath in my ear.

I pause and concentrate, three syllables rolling off my tongue like heads. Hur-ry-up. Please hurry the hell up.

I just want to be out of here before it’s my head rolling. He kisses my mouth, and the phone finally rings. And

rings. After a while, it’s acceptable to answer.

‘Ohmygodgirlimsosorry’, Lins mouths, overdoing it. ‘I’m so glad you picked up. I so so hate to be ruining your

night, but you won’t believe – ‘

Five minutes later, I’m hurtling out the door. The air is crisp and fresh. He waves me off. I can’t figure out his

expression, but I like his smell. It’s musky, stylish. I liked the feel of cashmere, too.

NosureokayIunderstand. Yes, you take care. I’m sorry, like, you can’t imagine. Make it up to you.

I turn a corner and start skipping down the path. I put my headphones on, then hum along.


‘You should really do something about this, you know’, she says dismissively as I stumble in. ‘About the guy

thing. I can’t be doing this forever, hope you realise?’

I murmur something indistinct.

‘Nice date at least?’

‘Was fun.’ I sound funereal. ‘I liked the film.’

‘You should get yourself down to LGBT drinks, sort this out’, she pronounces.

‘I already did. Was okay. Do we have tea?’

She shrugs, and mercifully skips the date-rape rant. The messing-boys-about rant.

Outside, the smell of loss is overbearing. I know that I will lose her, or am at least learning to lose her; her

head bricked up with Lawrence and the French and fear. Fear fear fear. Or is it.

(How did we even end up doing English. Foreigners, changelings. Bookish transplants. There’s mud on my

boots and smoke in the kitchen. The cake, at least, was well and truly ruined.)

‘Like honestly, I was a Catholic too’, she goes on. ‘It’s, like, not a death sentence? And what d’you think women

back home – ‘

I zone out. The tea warming up my terror.

(Limbs loosening, bones breaking – is that really all there is to it?)

‘I don’t mean it in a bad way, but Fi, you’re nearly twenty’, she says. ‘You’re just gay, believe me, nothing wrong

with – ‘

That sounds nice and simple, I think. Perhaps. Who knows. Steam rises off the liquid surface; my glasses

steam up.

‘I’m tired’, I say. ‘Thanks for doing this. I know you’re mad, but you saved my life. I won’t ask you again, okay?

We’ll talk tomorrow?’

I walk upstairs, go to my room. Soon it will be sleep loosening, dawn breaking.

‘Sleep well, you dork’, she says, and I think I can see her smile.


By Joanna Kozlowska


Header image by David

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