A Party, A Hot Date, and Two Trips to Urgent Care


Continue to the first two chapters over here.

Tuesday 7 am

My throat is burning. I’m in urgent care, enjoying the ASMR of a nurse’s nails pressing my symptoms into a patient dashboard. I’ve already tested, and it’s not Covid. “What recent sexual activity?” She asks.

The tone of her judgment reminds me of Roz from monsters company. Should I tell her I gave a 30-minute blow job to the hot Marine I met last weekend (remember him? And his Quantico-esque moves?) and now my throat looks like the Hulk just ripped it off?

In all seriousness, though, I heard there’s a chlamydia outbreak sweeping the city right now. I get regular STD tests and ask my partners to do the same, and so far, *knocking on anything but morning wood* I’ve never had. But as a hypochondriac, I am constantly self-diagnosing.


The nurse with the blatant RBF gives me a quick strep test. positive. seriously? I mean, it’s better than the alternatives, but I feel like bacteria – like Lunchables or Gushers – aren’t socially acceptable to get an adult. I think I’ll take my antibiotic prescription and side eye to go, thanks.

As I was leaving, I received a text message from Steve, Marine. “Zara. Saturday was so much fun. Cancel your next trip to California.” He says he will be back in New York this weekend. (Side note: Do I need to respond that I have streptococcus? I go none.)

“And miss the chance to debut as Snow White?” I reply instead. My friends are planning a Brothers Grimm-themed dinner at the Airbnb California wine complex, and everyone comes up as a character in the storybook. It will be exactly over the top as it appears. And no, I wouldn’t be contagious.

Steve knew the timing wouldn’t work since I left on Friday. He replied, “I think you just have to be the one who ran away.”

Saturday, 6 pm

My self N95’ed made it to the West Coast last night, but finishing a full round of these antibiotics is knocking me in the ass. Luckily I’m staying in a cabin a bit down the road from the main building, so no one noticed I got over it at 8pm

Now it’s dinner party time, and while I never thought I could convincingly make Snow White, I feel myself in this short wig. I even borrowed a friend’s red tie and stuck it to the wig to achieve Snow’s signature look. It’s called innovation.

And…wow. Nobody makes a table like my friend Amaya. She’s not a professional party planner, but she should be. It brought to life Grimms fairy tales: twinkling candles, jungle-themed table décor, and test-tube shots labeled with storybook poisons and potions. The meal is a whirlwind of debauchery, toast, toasting, and laughter.

Saturday 11 pm

There is a silent disco.

Sunday 2 am

I am tired. I’ve been dancing for a very long time on a sober person, on antibiotics, and in EST.

Get out of the main house at the same time as one of the many “Prince Charming” characters. He sat next to me at dinner and we did it a little earlier. It’s rainy and we laugh at something random when, all of a sudden, it slips over the wet and rocky terrain.

For a good 30 seconds, I’m silently struggling to get up, because as a feminist, I’m committed to stand alone. I can’t bear to insult a man dressed as a goddamn prince witch carrying me through the damned woods to get to my goddamn house while I dress like goddamn Snow White.

However, neither my ankles nor gravity seemed to work in my favour. The prince didn’t seem to believe it either. “Can’t you really wake up?” Asked. But no, this is not a movement… I literally can’t. Ugh. I only chose to dress like Snow White because I already owned a light blue velvet dress…not because I wanted to live her feminine fragility. I should have been ramblstiltskin. Maybe then I’ll leave with gold. or bitcoin.


The prince took me and the fireman took me – carried me up two flights of stairs to the single room which I and three of my friends share. He put me on an air mattress on the floor, took off his shirt, and lay next to me. He has some of the most beautiful arm muscles I’ve ever seen. But as much as I feel for this girl’s plight moment more than I’d like to admit (I’m still a feminist, but horny), I don’t think we’re actually into each other. We ended up in this situation by default, as the only two single people in this event. And for me, that’s not enough reason to join. However, there is no harm in snuggling. I wiggle one foot of my costume and turn to his side. Put this under the heading “Mostly platonic topless spoon”.

Sunday 11 am

Someone walks into the room, and wakes the five of us. We’re past our sad exit time. Our cottage looks like the inspiration for an old Kesha video. Glitter everywhere. Trash everywhere. I try to get up. Yes, definitely infected. He is still topless.

Urgent care twice in one week? I am an inspiration. Fortunately, my ankle only sprained, and didn’t break. One week on crutches, two weeks in the shoe, and I’ll be fine.

three weeks later, Saturday 9 am.

I’m visiting friends in the capital and thinking, Quantico is close, isn’t it? Steve and I have been texting this whole time. He’s an hour away and wants to take me “on a real date”.

It proposes a range of sports activities. “I like being outdoors in a stationary position,” I replied, refusing to pitch for a walk. “Like a beach chair in a glamorous setting with a cocktail?” Asked. Now I feel visible. We decide dinner.

Saturday, 3 p.m.

“I booked for 8pm,” he writes to me, saying he’ll borrow a friend’s car and pick me up. “Do you want to give me the network coordinates?” Yes, I am not talking military.

Me: “Maybe I’ll make a treasure map for you.”

Steve: “As long as there’s a prize at the end.”

Me: “Like a Nobel Prize? I can’t make any promises.”

Steve: “I was thinking like a kiss.”

He arrived a few hours later, carrying the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen. “I am old school,” he blushed as he handed me the bouquet. It’s romantic, I’ll give it that.

In return, I gave him one kiss that melted Hershey’s. “I kissed you, officer.” (It looked a lot funnier when I was buying it at the drugstore.)

Saturday, 10 pm

Talking about our work over dinner was remarkable. Because my work involves emotional warfare like navigating office politics, and it involves actual war.

Soon, we are standing outside the restaurant. It’s one of those fake spring nights where you think it’s warm, you don’t wear a jacket, and suddenly you’re pushed back into what feels like winter cold. I started shivering. He wraps his arms around me and kisses me gently outside. Where do we go now? Not his barracks. Not my friend’s place. “the hotel?” “Let’s do it.”


We barely got through the hotel door and he started to undress me with a level of urgency that I deeply respect. I think we are at DEFCON 1 on the scale of desire. Steve is 6 feet 3 inches and has spent a good portion of the last month training in the wild with very heavy equipment. It takes me less effort than I’m likely to lift my workload and throw me on the bed. Love the hotel bed. It is built differently.

I’m rarely a pillow princess, but honestly, I don’t have to contribute much to him. He is completely in control, moving my extremities exactly as he wants them to and properly taking my groans as signs to keep going. We have sex four times. Can anyone explain to me why I have been dating older men for so long when I could have dated younger men with better stamina? I’m in the process of reevaluating every choice I’ve made over the past 10 years.

Sunday 11 am

“I wish I didn’t have to go back,” he whispers as he tucks a piece of my hair behind my ear.

I didn’t think I’d be so attached to my Marines so quickly. But I think my sexual awakening coincided with watching Heath Ledger in patriot. Something about the soldier’s hot feelings for Steve does that for me. Also the finger he got stuck in my ass during the third round (which, after literally calling a friend, putting it on speakerphone without my knowledge during a group lunch, and outsourcing the term to a plump but enthusiastic crew, I’m told, is called “corkscrewing”).

Monday, 2 pm

I’m back in New York and I got a text from Ethan, The male half of the couple I had a threesome a few weeks ago: “Hey! Do you want to join us tomorrow for a theater party?”

First of all, what exactly does that mean? Second, on Tuesday? Let me check my schedule…

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