Chris hadn’t called for a while. He was like a funny little dog that had come up to me one day, a dog that couldn’t help but follow. But now he was learning to bite. It was Thursday, and the sun was falling into the mountains, and my homework was spread out beneath me on the little desk I’d bought at a garage sale for five dollars. I was feeling strange, melancholy. Usually when I felt this way, I went somewhere alone and watched people go by; let their colors move through me. The phone rang.
“Hey!” Justine said. She always sounded as if she’d just finished a run.
“Hey. What’s up?”
“Nothing. I heard you and Keokuk hit it off.”
“Kind of. I can’t tell if he likes me. Hell,” I said, laughing and shifting the phone, “Maybe he likes you.”
“What makes you say that?” she asked. “Cause he did ask me when John was at work. That’s why I left Solids.”
“Yes. But I’m sure he likes you,” she said.
“I barely care,” I said, moving from the desk to my bed and laying down.
“You should sleep with him.”
“Well… because you’ve never slept with a Native guy, right?”
“Well, you should, and then you can tell me about it.”
I laughed. “Oh, really. Well, I don’t kiss and tell.”
“I bet you do,” she said.
I laughed. “Maybe.”
“John keeps asking me if I’m going to leave him for a Native guy, because of me getting so serious about Native issues,” Justine said, and I could hear her crunching something on the other end.
“Well, would you?”
“NO!” she practically roared. “Though I’ve always told him that we should have me artificially inseminated with Native sperm, so that I could have Native children.”
“Yikes,” I said.
“So, do you want to marry a Native?” she asked.
“Maybe. I don’t know if I want to marry at all. Or have children.”
“You really shouldn’t narrow it down to Native men,” she said, “Really. You’re just limiting yourself.”
“Yeah,” I said, confused.
“So, we’re all gonna gather at my house this Saturday. And Keokuk will be there.”
“Well, I don’t think I’m interested in him, even if he is cute.”
Justine laughed loudly. “Oh, I don’t think he’s cute at all, at all.”
I arrived with a six-pack of bud in hand.
“Elyse and Keokuk are here,” Justine said at the door, wiggling her eyebrows.
Justine’s house was beautiful. She had told me that she and John had re-done the floors and the walls. The floors were a deep red wood, and the furniture was in tones of gold and blue. John was sitting on the couch, looking down at his computer, a glass of beer in his hand.
In the kitchen, Elyse and Keokuk looked deep in conversation, Elyse hitting Keokuk on the arm playfully, almost… flirtatiously.
“Hey,” I said and they both looked at me.
“Hey,” Elyse said moodily and Keokuk continued to stare. I put my six-pack in the fridge and took one out for myself, which Keokuk eyed suspiciously. I had heard he didn’t drink. I talked to Justine nearly the entire night, who was angry at Keokuk because he had been telling her about how sick of Anthropologists he was. I had overheard some of the argument, which consisted of Keokuk stating flatly, They’re stupid and Justine countering passionately and at length only to get another, They’re stupid. At one point, when I went over to the fridge to get a beer, he was so close to me I almost bumped into him turning around.
“Hi,” I said, and instead of responding, he looked over at Elyse and grumbled about how she drank too much. I didn’t respond.
As I was getting ready to go, Justine took me aside.
“I don’t think Elyse and the others like you,” she said. “Every time I mention you, they roll their eyes and one girl asked me how I could stand you.”
I didn’t know what to say. I had hardly interacted with any of them.
“And in the kitchen, Elyse looked over at you and mouthed, Are you going home with her? And Keokuk mouthed, No way. I just thought you should know that.”
“I don’t care,” I said. “And anyway, I’m going home.”
“OK!” Justine said brightly.
Later that night, Keokuk called. He said he had lost his keys and asked if had I seen them. I didn’t even know how he had my number. I told him that I hadn’t seen his keys. He asked me if he could come over because his keys might have gotten into my purse or something. “I guess,” I told him.
When he got there, he asked if I had anything to eat. I went to the kitchen for a bag of chips and he plopped down on an old, stuffed green chair I’d found by the side of the road. It was in the corner of my room, and he sat there staring at me, eating.
“What are you majoring in?” I asked.
“Engineering,” he said, crunching on the chips I’d handed him.
“Do you have anything healthy? I like to eat healthy,” he said, chewing.
“Uh, no, sorry.”
“Oh,” he said and continued to stare at me.
“I’m majoring in History. Actually, I’m going to graduate school next year,” I said, sitting down on the bed and tucking my legs under.
“He’s OK, I guess,” I said. I barely remembered him from Justine’s party.
“Cheap,” he said and crunched on more chips. “I’m doing a ceremony tomorrow. But I can’t tell you about it.” He paused to dig further into the bag of chips. “Does that bother you?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Oh,” he said and shoveled the chips in his mouth. It was 3:00 in the morning and I was exhausted.
“So… I’m pretty tired,” I said. He was silent. It wasn’t a move. I meant it. “I’m going to bed.” He was silent.
“You can either stay here, or you can leave. Either way. I don’t care.”
“I’ll stay here I guess,” he said and I sighed. He followed me to my bed and got in. I turned over and started to go to sleep. After a few minutes, he started to touch me, not kiss me.
“I’m not fucking you if you won’t even kiss me,” I said.
“Hmmm,” he said and kissed me, just a little.
I did sleep with him, and without a condom, which I regretted. I had never done that and had no idea why I was doing it with someone like this. He left in the morning after a long and heated texting session with his sister while he was still in bed with me.