The Persian

“How did I end up with the blond Israeli girl?”

(he mused to himself as if I wasn’t in the room, bushy brows knitting a deep, whirled groove into the center of his forehead, dark eyes flashing, that single curl falling out of place as usual, the one I always caught myself twirling my fingers through)

(I ignored a quiet discomfort wriggling itself through my stomach lining to lower my head onto his arm and watch the shadows hit his elbow, the light catch my wrist)


The American

“I told my dad’s friend about you. I mean, of course I told him about how smart you are, but he wanted to make sure you were hot, too. I told him you were Russian, and he was like, ‘Nice’”

(he laughed through the gaps in his teeth as the sun-bleached skin around his eyes crinkled into a carefree crackling of lines like the highways that splinter through California’s bone-bleached deserts and roaring cliff tops)

(I’d always called him a ray of sunshine, but something about this particular grin struck me as nothing but cold as we lay in his bed on that lazy Sunday morning, alone)


The Russian

“No, you don’t look like you’re from here at all…”

(he muttered over a billowing cloud of strawberry-flavored smoke, glacial blue eyes suddenly glowing like coals behind that dim gray veil as they narrowed appraisingly at my round face, big nose, and foreign-bought blouse; his cheekbones cut vicious lines across his face)

(I just shrugged, but my fingers clutched my glass a little tighter: the slippery smoothness was the only familiar feeling in a country that suddenly no longer felt like it was my home)


The Frenchman

“But you can’t really consider yourself a European. I mean, you live in the United States now”,

(he exhaled sharply through his nose, clipped tone softened by the nasalization of his vowels as we swayed back and forth between both languages, his slightly too-tight jeans cementing him firmly into the cobblestones that I was wobbling on for the first time in my life)

(I ordered another drink with him later, but it was as empty a sentiment as the hollowness ringing in my chest’s cavern that he reminded me of with his simple, simple words)


Persian, an American, a Russian, and a Frenchman walk into a bar—

(This isn’t the beginning of a joke, though sometimes I feel like laughing at how predictably disappointing the punchline always proves to be)

They see a girl who belongs nowhere and decide that she must belong to everyone—

(Without taking into account that people who sit alone in bars are the ones trying to find a place where they feel like they can finally belong)

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