Close Shave

Sarah Lindenbaum


You walk in the house last night and it has a thousand rooms for four people, rooms choked with ugly, expensive possessions. Three shots of rum and you're gone—smoking a clove, flailing, and donning a pirate eye patch. Tyler's older brother, sipping a glass of $200 red, red wine, ogles you from the end of the table, admiring your “pretty” Irish face, telling you that you look like Dolores of the Cranberries. You sit next to him and watch the poker game.


He says again, “I bet you're Irish?” and you smile at him.


Next you find yourself upstairs idly knocking balls with a pool cue. You think you look cute, wearing your handmade thrift store Marla Singer dress, fishnet stockings, and big burgundy boots, but he says otherwise.


“You'd be super-hot. You have a gorgeous face. You'd be super-hot if you shaved your legs.”

You're arguing vehemently with him, picking a fight. Your cheek aches dully from where he backhanded you, but this is your problem because you punched him first. He grins and says, “Just fucking shave 'em, you dirty whore,” and you tolerate this language because he's only joking in spite of himself.

Nonetheless you scream, “Fuck you fuck you fuck you!” at him as he continues bantering.

Corby's lying pale-skinned on the bathroom floor in a Bauhaus shirt; he's finished the rum off all by himself. You watch him bend over the toilet bowl retching loudly and woefully, wailing, “I’m gonna die.”


Adie rubs his back.


“Someone get him water!” Tyler bellows, and you run down to the kitchen and bring back water in a glass measuring cup. The kid beside you brings Corby four pieces of bread and sets them on the edge of the sink.


You wander down to the living room, sink into an armchair, and watch the boys spar, but not before picking another fight with Jess, as you find out he's called. Apparently you take out your keys and gouge him in the back, but you don't quite remember how or why. He walks around showing everyone his battle wound and hating you, but he sits next to you and teases you about wanting to have sex with him, his hand plowed into his pants and he tells you he's not wearing underwear.


Really,” you say, and both of you have forgotten his hot blonde German girlfriend whom he showed you risqué pictures of earlier.


“Kid,” he calls you.


You say, “Fuck you. I've fucked guys your age, so fuck you. Twenty-two. That's almost twenty-three.”

He responds by leaning over and planting a firm kiss on your cheek. You like it and think his breath smells enticing, like crackers and wine, but outwardly you only glower. You can hear Corby upstairs screaming,


“No, Adie! No more water! No!”


Jess returns to playing poker and passes you occasionally, demanding that you shave your legs so he can have sex with you. Twined in a blanket you mutter obscenities and doze off again. You feel sick, so you migrate to the bathroom and fall asleep in front of the toilet. Tyler's a nice host and gives you another blanket for a pillow. Jess just comes in and wakes you up, grinning down at you as he takes a drawn-out piss.


Later on, you find it's six a.m. The remaining boys are raucous in the living room, chattering about a suspicious noise they hear, which you learn in the morning is just a whirring ceiling fan. Jess asks if you want a bed and you're polite this time and respond affirmatively. He gives you his parent's bed and makes you take off your boots before you climb in. You thank him and he stares long and hard at you, but goes into the bathroom to take a Shower of Ages while you watch the dawn creep into the sky. You swear he's in there forty-five minutes or more and want to ask him to crawl in bed with you, but he never emerges.

You wake up in small bursts and quickly fall back asleep, but not before seeing Tyler strutting around the room in a towel. You wake up again and he's standing next to the bed, stark fucking naked and gloriously shaven, sheltering his genitals with a hand. “What?” you demand, but he's in the bathroom again. A minute later he walks past again in a towel and that's the last you see of him.


You wake up five hours later with a cottony mouth and wonder whether or not it might have been a dream. Four years later, you realize how much the memory scares the hell out of you. It seems to you that you

came very close to being a member of an unfortunate statistic.

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790