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.
Just as she thought this, he said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to murder you,” and she wondered if the discomfort in the car was her fault, because she was acting jumpy and nervous, like the kind of girl who thought she was going to get murdered every time she went on a date.“It’s O.
They started saying good morning and good night, and when she asked him a question and he didn’t respond right away she felt a jab of anxious yearning. We’re in love, and we’re probably going to get married.”“Hmm,” her stepdad said.
She learned that Robert had two cats, named Mu and Yan, and together they invented a complicated scenario in which her childhood cat, Pita, would send flirtatious texts to Yan, but whenever Pita talked to Mu she was formal and cold, because she was jealous of Mu’s relationship with Yan.“Why are you texting all the time? “Tell him we have some questions for him.”“My parents are asking about u,” Margot texted, and Robert sent her back a smiley-face emoji whose eyes were hearts.
It seemed obvious to Margot that he was expecting her to say no and that, when she did, they wouldn’t talk again.
That made her sad, not so much because she wanted to continue spending time with him as because she’d had such high expectations for him over break, and it didn’t seem fair that things had fallen apart so quickly.“We could go get a drink, I guess?
She still didn’t know much about him, because they never talked about anything personal, but when they landed two or three good jokes in a row there was a kind of exhilaration to it, as if they were dancing.
Then, one night during reading period, she was complaining about how all the dining halls were closed and there was no food in her room because her roommate had raided her care package, and he offered to buy her some Red Vines to sustain her.
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.
Robert came to pick her up in a muddy white Civic with candy wrappers spilling out of the cup holders.
On the drive, he was quieter than she’d expected, and he didn’t look at her very much.
The thought of this possible vulnerability touched her, and she felt kinder toward him than she had all night. “I thought you said you were older.”“I told you I was a sophomore! Standing outside the bar, having been rejected in front of everyone, was humiliating enough, and now Robert was looking at her as if she’d done something wrong.“But you did that—what do you call it?
When he asked her where she wanted to go for a drink, she named the place where she usually hung out, but he made a face and said that it was in the student ghetto and he’d take her somewhere better. That gap year,” he objected, as though this were an argument he could win.“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said helplessly.
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.