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Greta

We’re sitting at Ri, or 9 or # or some other similarly-titled new restaurant on Capitol Hill. The food is served on slabs of stone, and all the servers are blonde and never make eye contact with you. They are carefully thin and squeezed into tight strips of grey clothing that probably cost more than my entire wardrobe. The walls are black, the napkins are black and the customers are all white. The furniture is thick wood, framed with some kind of rust-colored metal that reminds me of old period stains. The restaurant is so dark that I can barely see the menu, which is written in a spiral on a thin piece of white tissue so trying to read it is like taking an eye exam and solving a puzzle at the same time. Oily, black shadows slink around us, only parting to make way for the servers, who appear out of the gloom like ghosts, their spectral, bony arms bearing drinks served in tall, thin glasses. The dark is impenetrable, wrapped around our table, solid and pulsating, pressing in on us.

“How tall are you?” he asks. I have not said anything yet. “The last girl I dated wasn’t very tall. You’re what… a five five?” He holds up his arm to show me how tall that is. His right hand is digging around in his pocket for something and a second later he pulls out a small black cell phone. “Here, let me show you a picture of her,” he says.

I still don’t say anything, because it’s Greta that I’m thinking about again. Greta, who often crawls into bed with me when I’m sleeping and curls up beside me, soaking into my warmth, shivering, burrowing her face into my back. Greta, who won’t eat anything I make, scrunching her nose and saying it smells before giggling into the back of her hand. It is Greta who spends hours scouring the online profiles, clicking on faces and profiles, pointing them out to me as the faucet in the kitchen drips endlessly into the sink, punctuating each moment we spend together in the apartment with the constant reminder that time is marching on.

“Look at this one,” Greta will say, her finger tapping the laptop screen, the nail ragged and chewed, doomed never to grow. “He says that he’s a professional.”

“This one is fifty-two,” Greta will say, her curls bouncing around her face as she moves closer to read the screen.

“He doesn’t want to talk to anyone over twenty-six and he doesn’t like fat girls.”

So of course, two nights later, I’m out at Chique or Blank or How To Cook A Horse, listening to a fifty-two-year old systems engineer ask me how many times a week I go to the gym and if I like to suck cock.

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