It’s a Friday evening and Mary sits at the bar, winding down with a vodka lemonade. It’s been a long week at work. She deserves this, and her friends will be here soon. She drains the last of her drink, making the slurping sound of an almost empty beverage. A man saddles up beside her, introduces himself as Jeff, and offers to buy her a drink. He’s not terribly handsome, nor terribly ugly. He’s average. She’s not looking for anything, but he seems nice enough, and she might as well have some company while she waits for her friends. She accepts his offer.

The conversation is pretty stilted initially, them finding little to talk about, little in common. As the second drink goes down, and the third follows, Mary notices that Jeff is actually quite funny and charming. She still has no intention of making anything of this. She glances at her watch – her friends are 20 minutes late. She might as well have another cocktail.

Her friends arrive at the bar in dribs and drabs. Mary is quite buzzed at this stage. She’s had five drinks, Jeff has had three, and is holding his own. When each friend arrives, she professes her undying friendship for Jeff to them, while giggling. He smiles at each of them, as they barely stop themselves from rolling their eyes. Here we go again.

The night progresses, and Mary gets more and more drunk. Jeff is by no means sober, but nowhere near as smashed as she is. Her friends leave in ones and twos, taking her aside to ask her to join them. She is wasted and doesn’t give a shit what they say. They’re all trying to ruin her night. She’s not doing anything wrong. She’s just having fun. Why do they have to be so uptight?

Closing time rolls around, and Mary cannot walk straight by this stage. She holds onto Jeff, as she wobbles down the street in her heels. Her shoes didn’t seem this high earlier in the night. There has been no mention of them going home together – to either of their places. As them bump into each other, Mary kisses Jeff quickly on the cheek. She laughs out loud, and he gives her a sexual look. She glances at him just at that moment. They almost dissolve into each other, kissing each other hard, and frantically. Mary doesn’t care who sees. She is young and free. It’s a new age, where women can be as sexual as men, without apology. She grabs his crotch, even though they are on a busy street. He asks her to take it easy. He is a little put off by her intensity, but there is no way he’s stopping this now.

Once they agree to go back to his place, they grab a cab. In the cab once more she is aggressive, not letting up the whole ride. Once they get inside his apartment, they tear each other’s clothes off and go to the bedroom. They spend the next several hours, fucking (this is most definitely not making love, or even casual sex). Multiple positions, acts, humor. They pass out with only a couple of hours left until sunrise.

Mary wakes up when the light pours in the window, onto her face. Jeff is facing the other way. She knows they had sex. She can feel the throbbing in her vagina, the filthiness. She doesn’t remember much after her friends had all left. She feels like throwing up, and runs to the bathroom, but nothing comes up. She doesn’t know whether that’s a good or a bad thing. Glancing in the full-length mirror, she can see she looks like absolute crap. Her hair is a tangled mess, and mascara has run halfway down the left side of her face. She looks at her naked reflection. She smiles, despite how awful she feels. She still has a great body. She feels like a queen, despite it all.

She grabs her wrinkled clothes off the floor, and dresses as quick as she can. She doesn’t want to wake him. She remembers the night before, they didn’t have much to say to each other, until they were drunk. Please let him stay unconscious. As she’s about to walk out the door, she hears him call out to her. She knows he’s heard her, so she can’t really pretend she’s not there. She could bolt out the door. It’s doubtful he’d chase her, being buck-naked as he is. Something stops her. A last feeling of humility sends her back into the bedroom, with an attempt of a smile plastered on her face. Jeff asks for her number, to which she seemingly, willingly, gives to him. She switched a couple of digits. No way is she seeing him again. There are many, many, more guys out there. Why do a repeat? Ha. She makes an excuse about having to leave, for some important appointment. He winks at her (yuck), and she leaves.

She can’t remember where she is, so she takes out her phone and brings up Google Maps. God. She’s all the way on the other side of the city. She could get a Lyft, but that would cost a fortune. She heads for the nearest bus stop, and prepares for the hour or more journey home. All the way there, she feels like throwing up, and shitting all over the seat. God – hangovers suck. Especially when you’re still drunk at the same time.

The texts start to pile in, mostly from her best friend, Samantha, a few from other friends who were out last night. Samantha was checking in to see was she okay. She had called a few times late last night and gotten no answer. Mary doesn’t remember hearing the phone ring. She tells Sam that everything is okay, that she’s on her way home. Jen wants to know all the juicy gossip. She’s always up for a laugh – almost as much as Mary. Well not really that much. Mary giggles to herself as she recounts what she can remember. “Isn’t it hilarious?” “Oh my God. You should have seen his body.” “I was so wasted.” “I can hardly walk. He has me crippled.” “God no. I didn’t give him my number. Are you crazy? I gave him a fake one. Ha ha.

She eventually gets home, throws her keys on the table, her bag on the floor, and kicks her heels across the room. She flops onto the couch, and lies there motionless and staring into space. Her mind is not blank. Thoughts are there, but not racing, however. She feels too ill for that. Her thoughts feel like they are stuck in a swamp, unable to reveal themselves coherently. She is no longer smiling, no longer giggling, except for the odd half-attempt at a laugh. The laughs are insincere, and become quieter and quieter. Before her thoughts can come into focus, she rushes to the bathroom. “No need to think thoughts right now Mary. Shut up brain.” She turns on the water, and once it’s heated, steps into the nearly-scalding shower. She feels disgusting. She spends maybe twenty minutes in there, most of it just letting the water flow over her body, while she actively tries not to think.

When she’s done, she goes to get dressed. She throws on clean underwear, socks, sweatpants, a sports bra, and an oversized hoodie – the perfect hangover outfit. She plops back down on the sofa again. Slumped, her legs splayed, arms spread out across the neighboring two cushions. Her phone is beside her to her left. She looks. No messages, no missed calls while she was washing the remnants of last night from her body. It sits there, still silent. No one reaching out anymore. The debrief was done. Leave her to her hangover.

She sat like that for God knows how long, staring into space, still feeling like puking and shiting. Thoughts began going through her head about what happened last night, first at a snail’s pace, then picking up steam, until her mind is racing. She feels guilty. No she doesn’t. She should feel guilty. Does she feel guilty about not feeling guilty? Sex is enjoyable. Why not have frequent sex? So what if they’re strangers. She’s not hurting anyone. Is she hurting herself?

She estimates that she’s probably slept with fifty guys in the last five years. So what? Screw what everyone thinks. She realizes that would mean ten guys each year. That is way too low. She usually sleeps with two or three each week. God. Her number must be well over one hundred! Could it really be that high? Does it really matter – if its fifty or one hundred? Once your numbers are that high… She still isn’t quite sure how to feel guilty about it. She knows she should feel guilty, but she just doesn’t. If and when she meets a husband, will she tell him? If, in fact, she has nothing to feel guilty about, then why would she hide it? Is it because of the different rules for men and women? All that said, she wouldn’t want to date a man with one hundred partners – no way.

She plays this game in her head as nauseam. Over and over. Until she turns on Netflix, and forgets the whole thing. Just another day. Nothing to see here. All is well. She hears her phone ping. A new text message. It’s from Paige, her bestie from High School. She’s asking Mary if she wants to go out on Sunday night. She’s thinking of Taylor’s. Taylor’s always has cute guys – yum. Without a second thought she responds. I’d love to come, and cum – haha. Let’s hope we meet some hot guys.

Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

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