A man joins Katya’s table holding a small styrofoam cup and she feels rather than allows her spine straighten. He notices her reaction and points his head towards the opposite wall with a forced grin. She rises in search of caffeine, leaving her tote hanging off her chair to save her space.
The table containing the coffee is tucked into a nook, sugar spilled on the silver surface. A woman in a maxi skirt steps away and Katya reaches for a foam cup of her own, only to find that the pot closest to her is empty.
“Excuse me, I need behind you,” she says to a woman whose perfume is tangling with the coffee scent in a way that makes Katya breathe a deeper.
“It’s seven o’clock at night, why do you need coffee so badly?” The woman asks, but the smile dancing at her lips and around her eyes gives away her teasing tone better than her voice. She steps away, and Katya steps into her space.
“I’m a teacher, it’s what we do,” Katya shrugs, carefully freeing the full pot from its holder and avoiding the pink skirt of the woman who’s just straightened to stand up on both feet.
“Oh, do you teach here? I work with ARC, and I know they fulfill services for a few students here.” The woman’s eyes are bright, dancing between Katya’s face and her coffee cup and her outfit. Katya does the same, gives her a once over as she replaces the coffee pot. She’s an attractive young woman, probably 24. Her blonde hair is curled and lays gracefully on her shoulders, covered in a well fitted white button up. Her pink pencil skirt stops appropriately at her knees and leads into small nude heels. She wears too much makeup, but Katya would guess that she knows that and doesn’t mind.
“No, actually I teach at Riverview. But I know the art teacher here, and she’s absolutely wonderful. In fact,” Katya is interrupted by an announcement that they’ll begin soon. “Guess I should go back to my seat.”
“Um, do you mind if I join you?” The woman asks, bottom lip tucked tightly under rather large front teeth, “I was meeting a friend but she doesn’t seem to be coming.”
“Sure,” Katya agrees, “I’m Katya. What was your name again?”
“Trixie. Nice to meet you, Katya.” Katya guides her back to where she left her bag and Trixie takes the seat next to her. The first half of the evening is spent listening to the speaker and following along in their handout. It’s not captivating, but it does feel worth her time. Katya isn’t surprised by the figures and examples about race and disability in youth, but is disheartened to learn that they don’t improve as the population ages. When the speaker announces a break, Katya feels a shoulder gently knocking hers. The scent of Trixie’s perfume floats through the air between them, lilac, or maybe jasmine.
“I think I’ll join you,” Trixie nods towards Katya’s long-empty coffee cup, “Would you like another? Black, right?” Katya nods, smiling towards Trixie. Trixie returns her smile, and Katya looks down quickly. Trixie’s pretty for a Pepto Bismol, probably-straight, in her early twenties girl, but Katya is far more interested in learning more about servicing her students with disabilities than getting distracted by a woman who is probably only here because her desk job requires it. She pulls her phone out of her pocket, seeing a new text from Sasha, reminding her that she isn’t allowed to bail tonight. Katya responds with a singular emoji before tucking her phone back away.
“Seems like the coffee’s gone cold, but I guess with free coffee, it’d be pretty douchey to be upset about it.” Trixie places both of the cups on the table, hers a light brown to Katya’s black. Katya smiles up, thanks her. When she takes her seat, Katya feels her scoot a little closer. She’s reaching for her phone to occupy the silence when Trixie leans in closer.
“I know it isn’t much on the large scale, but I will say the people I support don’t usually show prejudice with race. However, I do have one guy who won’t get into cars with men with facial hair.”
“You should probably shave then,” Katya responds before she can help herself. Trixie’s lips drop into a perfect circle before she opens her mouth wide in a scream. She sounds like a banshee when she laughs; Katya’s never heard anyone with a laugh more obnoxious than her own.
“You’re horrible,” Trixie breathes, readjusting her hair on her shoulder.
The speaker taps the microphone and clears his throat. They settle into their chairs for the second half of the program, one involving more crowd interaction and table discussions. Katya feels her patience growing thin with the older gentleman at their table as he continues to monopolize the conversation and repeat the same ideas. Trixie nudges her foot under the table and rolls her eyes. Katya returns a grin towards her. When Trixie does get a chance to chime in, Katya’s impressed and agrees with her ideas, and says so to the table. Trixie looks down to her lap, her face crinkling with her wide smile. It’s sweet, how pleased she is with the praise, and Katya wants to give her more.
The program wraps up at 8:30, as promised, and Katya’s phone is already vibrating across the table.
“Sasha, you have to learn to trust me,” she says in lieu of a greeting.
“A gorilla emoji is not a promise to come!” Sasha’s deep voice is raised to an almost shriek, “If you’re not at John’s in half an hour I swear to every god you and your witchy ancestors believe in…” Katya laughs into the phone, drawing Trixie’s eyes toward her as she stands and grabs her bag.
“I’m leaving now, you bully.” Katya looks down to where Trixie is still seated, still watching her. If they were going anywhere else besides Just John’s, she might invite her, you know, just to be polite. The thought surprises her.
“I’m buying you a drink in five minutes, so if you don’t hurry it’ll be watered down,” Sasha warns, and Katya can hear the car door closing in the background. Katya mentally berrades herself again for being such a flakey friend to Sasha lately, especially if this meanness is the result.
“It was nice meeting you, Trixie, have a good night,” Katya calls over her shoulder, sidestepping behind a man to get to the door. “Listen, Sasha, I’m literally walking out the door of the school, but I’ve got to stop and get gas. I’ll see you soon.”
Sasha hits her with an “uh huh” before hanging up. Katya tucked her phone into her back pocket and fished for her keys in her tote. The door to her Ford Taurus sticks a little, but she’s grown used to yanking on it. True to her word, she pulls into the first gas station she sees, ducks in to grab a pack of Marlboros, and goes straight to the bar.
There’s a sign outside in cursive handwriting that says Ladies Who Love Ladies Night. Katya pauses to take a quick picture of it, tempted to post it online later. Sasha is easy to find once she’s past the doorman, her pale bald head shining in the neon.
“She did it! She made it to a bar! She’s out past 8 pm!” Sasha cheers, a glass in both hands. Katya rolls her eyes, taking the fuller of the two glasses and sucking on the straw. She squeezes her friend around the middle before sitting on the stool next to her.
They’re tucked into the corner of the main room of the club, that’s slowly filling with more women than Katya’s ever seen here. Her neck hurts, the balls of her feet ache, and she bets she’s got paint somewhere on her clothes. But she can’t help but feel a little thrill in her gut as she takes another sip of the vodka based drink Sasha had chosen for them both. She allows her friend to fill her ears with stories of students and academia, chiming in occasionally to compare the plights of junior college with junior high. With Sasha, it’s easy to study the room and stay locked into their conversation; they’re quite accustomed to multitasking during their hangouts.
The room is full of high and tight haircuts and boots, but there’s variety that Katya appreciates. She sees two women in cargo shorts dancing a tango completely off the beat, a person with both a mustache and boldly blue lips, a small gaggle of skinny gay men surrounding their flannel clad friend in support as she peers nervously through them. Katya taps open the pack of cigarettes she bought and pulls one out and into her mouth.
“Gonna go grab an ashtray, do you need another?” Katya asks. Sasha shakes her head no, and Katya walks towards the crowded bar. She’s delighted to see so many women out, she really is. But it’s clearly more than the bar was expecting, as they’re understaffed. She tries to tamper down her annoyance by closing her eyes and taking a deep breath.
“Don’t you know it’s a school night?” a voice from behind her asks, a light touch on the back of her arm. Katya jumps at least six inches into the air, yanking the unlit cigarette from her mouth.
When she turns around, it's Trixie. But she's now wearing just a creamy satin camisole tucked into her pink pencil skirt and her lipstick looks freshly reapplied. Katya throws her hand to her heart to calm herself.
“What kind of serial killer…” she takes a breath while Trixie giggles, “It's nice to see you again.” Katya means it, but she is surprised at the location. Maybe Trixie didn't see the sign and she's here with a bachelorette party or her gay guy friends.
“You too! I almost couldn't believe it when I saw you walk past.” Trixie squeezes through two people, places an elbow on the bar, and pulls Katya through as well. Katya feels Trixie pinch the fabric of her long-sleeved top before letting go.
“Let me buy you a drink, Katya,” Trixie says, her eyes taking in Katya's face as if they hadn't just sat next to each other for almost two hours.
“I'm okay, I was just getting an ashtray,” Katya refuses, “And I've still got part of a vodka soda at my table.”
“Nonsense,” Trixie insists, flipping her hair over her shoulder and turning to the bar. She asks the bartender for two vodka sodas and an ashtray. “I can't believe you're here.” Katya thinks she could say the same about Trixie, but when Trixie says it, it's with delight and not confusion.
“Thank you,” Katya says as Trixie hands her the drink the bartender had sat in front of them. Trixie looks good, and in this space with most of a drink in her, she takes a moment to appreciate what Ms. Z in the fluorescents of a school cafeteria didn't. Her skin looks soft, delicate around her collarbone, and Katya's eyes are drawn to her cleavage. The ivory lace bra she can see peeking through is putting in some work to hold up Trixie's breasts, and Katya has to practically snap her eyes away to look down to where the camisole is tucked into the skirt where it sits at the smallest part of her waist. Her wide hips stretch the fabric tightly over a swell of stomach that makes her look soft. Her feet, still in her nude pumps, are crossed delicately at the ankle as she leans against the bar. Katya looks back up to her face, feels her cheeks heat up at Trixie's knowing smirk.
“I really enjoyed our conversation earlier,” Trixie takes a step closer to Katya, “I was disappointed you left before we could continue.”
“My friend Sasha was sure I was going to bail on her tonight, so I had to rush over,” Katya explains. She takes a sip of her drink, watching how Trixie watches her. Suddenly, Trixie's eyes dart away and a scowl forms momentarily before she schools her features back to normal.
“Trix, I got us a table,” a voice behind Katya calls. Katya turns to see a pretty, tanned blonde in a sheer white top and skinny jeans.
“Great, thanks Courtney,” Trixie smiles, her jaw a little more square.
“It's to the left, in the--”
“Thanks Courtney!” Trixie cuts her off, before turning back to face Katya with a grin. Katya assumes the girl leaves, because Trixie takes a small step towards Katya.
“So, you teach art,” Trixie states, signaling with her drink for Katya to continue. Katya can’t contain the laughter that comes from her mouth, even as she tries to hide it behind a sip of her drink.
“I teach art,” Katya agrees, “And you work with people with disabilities.” Trixie nods, the straw of her drink between her front teeth. Katya's eyes linger there, as she suspects Trixie wants them to.
“And we both somehow went to the same event twice in one day,” Trixie trails off, “so maybe we should do that again soon.” Katya raises her eyebrows in confusion. “Go to the same event. Together,” Trixie explains.
“Like a date?” Katya shifts a step back, trying to see all of Trixie's face to read her expression, make sure she understood before she makes a fool of herself. But she walks into someone who grabs her by the waist.
“I thought you'd left and I was about to be so pissed,” Sasha says into her ear, hands still on her waist.
“Oh shit, I didn't even think,” Trixie stammers, taking a step back herself, “I'm sorry, I didn't know you had a girlfriend.”
“I don't,” Katya assures, gripping Sasha’s arm to yank herself from her hold. Now that Katya’s caught up, she needs Sasha to catch up too. Sasha’s eyes widen as she looks between the two of them.
“She definitely doesn't!” Sasha agrees, “Actually Katya, I've got to take off. It was nice seeing you!” Katya leans into Sasha’s hug and bats her away at her whispered approvals. Sasha tugs the cigarette from behind Katya's ear and puts it between her own lips as she leaves. They're left in a smiling stare off, only punctuated by Trixie rattling the ice in her glass.
“Is that the friend who called to make sure you wouldn't bail?” Trixie's eyes are squinted, her lips pursed. Katya briefly thinks she must look so pretty when she's focused on her work.
“Mmhmm,” Katya answers around her straw.
“And now she's suddenly got to go?” Katya laughs, slamming her glass down on the bar.
“She's a good friend, what can I say?” Trixie’s laughter is a shriek, her hand reaching to clutch Katya's forearm. Katya looks down at her big hand with its neat, nude nails and it's glittery silver ring. Trixie removes it, leaving a warmth behind, and takes Katya's drink from the bar.
“Wanna find a seat?” Trixie asks. Katya follows her as Trixie navigates the dance floor to the opposite side where there's a small pub table for them to squeeze into. Trixie balances her foot on Katya's stool, causing their calves to brush as Katya gets comfortable.
“Where's your friend?” Katya asks, leaning in a little towards Trixie now that it's louder. Trixie shrugs, not even bothering to look at the dance floor.
“Have I mentioned how happy I am to run into you again?” Katya feels her blush rising. “Seriously, I had half a mind to find your school email just to get in touch with you again.” Trixie's rolling her eyes at herself, but Katya can't help but laugh.
“I haven't even agreed to a date yet and you're talking about stalking me,” Katya protests.
“You will,” Trixie shrugs, leaning forward on the table in a clearly well-practiced move of showing off her cleavage. Katya gives in, looks down at her breasts, licks her lips subconsciously.
“I didn't even think you were gay until you asked me out,” Katya confesses, leaning even closer so she doesn't have to raise her voice. Her breath disturbs one of Trixie's curls.
“We’re at dyke night, bitch!” Trixie's hand smacks down on the table in laughter. Katya joins her.
“I never claimed to be smart,” Katya defends. Trixie shoots her a look that lets Katya know that Trixie's aware of her intelligence. It makes Katya's toes curl, the cutting side eye of it.
Trixie leans in, brushes the hair out of Katya's face. Katya feels her stomach flutter and schools her face to freeze before she can betray how nice the attention feels.
“So where do you live?” Trixie's voice is soft on her ears, everything about her is soft. Katya's only had two drinks and John's is known for making them weak, but she feels her blood shooting little electric sparks throughout her body.
Before Katya can answer, they're being interrupted by the short blonde from before, this time with a tall woman with a greying ponytail in her shadow.
“Trixie, I need my keys, I'm leaving,” the blonde insists, giggling as dark hands travel across her torso from behind.
“Literally just take an Uber,” Trixie snaps, eyebrows coming together.
“Noo, I have work tomorrow morning, I want my car,” she protests. Katya checks the time on her phone.
“I should get going too,” she chimes in. Trixie's head turns quickly back to her, features softening.
“No, we just started talking,” Trixie pouts. The light reflects off the shiny inside of her bottom lip and Katya wants to touch it. It's a much more attractive sight than Trixie's friend putting her tongue into the tall girl's ear.
“I know, but I have to teach tomorrow,” Katya explains, taking the final swig of her drink.“Pass me your phone so you don't have to stalk my work email.” She expects Trixie to laugh, she wants Trixie to laugh, but instead she blushes and unlocks her phone before handing it over. Katya types her first name only, considers adding any cutesy emojis. She realizes she's taking too long and sheepishly gives the phone back, emoji-less.
They both hesitate, not knowing how to approach their goodbye. They're saved by a moan from beside them.
“I should get them home before they make a scene,” Trixie's nose is turned up at the girls groping each other next to her.
“Have a good night, drive safe.” Trixie grins at Katya before turning on the other girls and pulling the blonde one away by her shirt. Katya chuckles and heads towards the exit.
After a quiet drive home with her windows down, she showers and crawls into bed. It's not as late as she'd feared; her phone reads 11:05. She has a new text message, from an out of state number.
“I know I should play it cool but I really just want to ask if you're free this weekend. If this is too forward, just say you're busy and I'll blame it on drunk texting.” Katya clenches her jaw to suppress a squeal. Her fingers fly in response.
K: Who's this?
K: oh my god that was so mean I'm sorry I have a terrible sense of humor!
K: And actually, I'm completely free this weekend.
K: Unless you wake up and regret that text, in which case, I'm unfortunately busy.
She thinks she saved herself from a situation as best as possible and tries to go to sleep. But by one am when she's still wide awake and constantly checking her phone for a reply, she groans before opening her nightstand drawer and pulling out her favorite bullet vibrator. She's asleep fifteen minutes later.
She doesn't hear from Trixie again until she checks her phone during the first class rotation the next day.
T:... I'm confused. Are you free?
T: Because if so I'd love to take you out tonight.
K: I can be ready as early as 6.