Mary Ann has was used to her shyness being misunderstood. The only child of an overprotective single dad, and best friend of the naturally dominating Kristy, Mary Ann was simply used to putting other people’s needs before her own. Then in grad school for Library Sciences, she read The Ethical Slut, and now Mary Anne has no problem making her needs known.
The weekend after she finished the book (in one sitting), Mary Ann attended a party at the library where she was doing her work-study hours. In the dimply lit basement break room, characteristically buzzed off one plastic cup of Merlot, she put eyes on Nathaniel, a warm eyed 27 year old who worked in Returns, listening to NPR all day while sorting books. She hadn’t had sex in a year and a half, not since her college boyfriend Terry, her only sexual partner and second boyfriend in total since Logan, moved back to Santa Barbara after graduation. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise, like the hackles of an aggressive dog, ready to pounce.
In the morning, he microwaved a bowl of Grape Nuts with soy milk and offered her some. She refused, she was more concerned with finding her blouse. It wasn’t with the rest of her clothes beside the bed, and she struggled to remember where she took it off. Then it came back to her: spilling some wine down the front of it while they inched closer together on his futon couch. Fumbling, he’d offered to go find a washcloth, but she said “Don’t worry, I’ll go give it a soak”. Moments later, she emerged from the bathroom in only her skirt and bra, nodding towards the bedroom.
Now, in the light of day, Mary Anne stood over the bathroom sink where her blouse was floating in a sink full of soapy water. Nathaniel promised to air dry the blouse and return it to her on Monday. He said he’d try some club soda on the stain if the soap hasn’t gotten it all out. She told him not to worry about it, but could she borrow something of his to wear right now? She had breakfast plans with Mallory and Jessi. He gave her this T-shirt, the closest he had to her size. He said he would love to get coffee with her sometime, and gave her both his cell number and non-work email address.
She never called him, and she never gave him his shirt back.