YOU MEET THEM WHEN THEY get off the metro. You can’t tell who they are because you’ve only seen photos of them online, but the one with the mullet and 80s windbreaker comes up to you easily enough. They look better online. They’re standing with a man and speaking in your not-quite second language so you try to follow along without saying What the fuck is he doing here this is supposed to be a date. They ask if you’ve been to the secret garden, you say no. You three walk together but when you get there the gates are locked. The man offers that you girls both come over to his. You think neither of you are particularly feminine but he offers you weed and his place is just around the corner. He probably wants a threesome so you make your excuses. You go to an abandoned playground with the date and you sit and pull out the joint you rolled. They make fun of your joint for being shitty and won’t stop talking about vegan manifestos so you say you appreciate companionable silence. When you bring them back to your house you take them to the terrace and they say they hate the sound of lesser accents and that you should have flirted with them more. You’re defensive but resigned so you invite them to watch a movie in bed. Above your bed hangs the zodiac tapestry from your best friend, and they tell you they’re a cancer and look for their sign on the chart. Turns out cancer is missing. When they fuck you you ask out of nowhere Do you think I’m pretty and they say Why would you ask that. Afterward you feel like you’re having an out of body experience and turn over to get the lamp and you each sleep facing a different wall. They wake up early and give you a goodbye kiss that you don’t want as they pull on their pants and then they fuck off. You never hear from them again. You’re glad the cancer is missing after that.
You’re back on your usual side of the ocean sitting in a behavioral health center because you weren’t coping in Spain. Your dad is next to you and you’re both tapping your right leg, a family tic. The walls are gray and there are crucifixes everywhere and you’re about to have an intake with a social worker to see if you’re a good fit for the program. You’re nervous but used to it. You feel guilty about your dad’s concern. You think about the portrait of the pope you saw in the hallway and the stone virgin statue out front of the hospital. You’re wearing your ridiculous vintage fur coat that must be from the 80s because the animal pelt is dyed all black and green and magenta. You look the part. When the social worker guy comes out to call you you’re in the midst of telling your dad about the slope of the cathedral roofing in Sevilla, different from the other spires of Europe because they don’t need to withstand the weight of snow. You realize after you never finished telling him about it, and you wanted to because you feel most proud when you’re talking about some obscure art historical architecture thing that makes it seem like all that time everyone has put into you has been worthwhile. The social worker guy invites you to take a seat and you leave your dad out in the waiting room looking like a worried little boy and your chest feels crushed in with sorriness. The social worker has a calendar with gorillas on it and some religious plaques on the wall. You can hear your dad on the phone outside in the hall. You wish he could sit with you but this is real business we’re talking, death stuff. So you have your meeting with the social worker guy and a gorilla over his shoulder and the flatness of the roof of a beautiful Spanish cathedral in your head. You wonder what you’re doing here. You say you can start tomorrow.
L Scully (they/them) is a queer writer and double Capricorn currently based in Madrid. Find them in the ether @LRScully.