The blindfold was slipped from my eyes.
I blinked in the darkness. In front of me, there was a crowd of people, cheering and wishing me a happy birthday. Some of them were my friends, but some of them were strangers, and some of the strangers were waving dildos at me.
Then I recognized where I was—at the Donner Party nightclub, which held an erotic costume ball every month.
“Wasn’t it a brilliant idea to have your birthday at the ball?” Julian asked.
When he told me to make sure to take my lingerie along for my surprise, I thought we might be staying at a swanky hotel. But I was nothing if not a good hostess, so I shrugged and went to change into my garter belt. Besides, the erotic balls were fun.
I scanned my group of guests. Julian was looking quite handsome in his top hat, RedGirl had wrapped herself in a very small American flag, and Julian’s friend was dressed up as a teddy bear because, as she explained, “there are people who have a fetish for them.”
Leah wasn’t dressed up at all. She was wearing her usual T-shirt and jeans. “This is the outfit of the everyday working woman,” she said, “and it should be considered the sexiest of all.”
“I’m going to get back my virginity,” RedGirl whispered to me when were sitting together.
“How?” I was alarmed.
She flashed a piece of massive bling at me. “This is my purity ring. Well, a better version of it.”
“You can’t get your virginity back once it’s gone.” I leaned forward. “Also, you’re wearing a patriotic napkin right now.”
“That’s just to attract my intended husband. I’m still going to be chaste from now on. I’m afraid that if I’m not, I’ll end up like one of your friends.” She pointed at Nova, who was rolling around on the floor in her bear costume.
I stared at Nova’s twirling, spellbound. Julian was watching her, too.
“I think you’re restricting yourself,” he said to me.
“Well…sometimes I can sense that you need more freedom. I think maybe you’re feeling trapped in the whole monogamy thing.”
“Oh, I see. *I* feel trapped.” I was feeling furious, actually.
“But the thing is, we can still be together….”
“Look, don’t give me that open relationship bullshit,” I snarled. “Either I’m going to be your only one or I’m not going to be with you at all. If you want to leave, just leave.”
“Why do you have to turn it into such an all or nothing situation? I don’t want to leave you, I…”
I didn’t listen to the rest of what he had to say. I walked off and sat down on a pile of pillows by the wall. Nova sat down beside me and put her bear paw around me.
Maybe RedGirl was right. Julian had his flaws, but one thing I thought I could count on was that he wasn’t the polyamorous type. Was there something in the air in this town that turned people slutty?
It was only then, slouching there, sunk into my anger, that I realized just how much I had grown to dislike this place, the grown up children I was surrounded by.
My first instinct was to fight something, the way I had fought so many times before. But what was I fighting? Julian? Promiscuity?
Either way, I had to resolve this. I climbed the stage in the back of the club, and took the microphone away from a surprised drag queen.
“For those who are here for my birthday…” At this, booing could be heard around the room. “…I wanted to make the official announcement that I’m breaking up with Julian. Thank you for listening.” My speech would have been longer and a lot more interesting if I’d been drunk.
After my announcement, I had a fabulous time. I had one whiskey shot after another, and shouted “Woooo!” a lot. Julian wisely avoided me.
“Romantic feelings are a distraction from the cause anyway,” Leah noted.
I didn’t reveal to Leah that I no longer believed in the cause. No, that wasn’t right. I still believed in the cause. I no longer believed in pretentious hipsters and people in bearsuits as part of the cause.
The hipsters had to be destroyed.
It wasn’t going to be that simple, though. It turned out that in order to move out of the apartment I shared with Julian, I had to get a permit for a new apartment. I was put on the waiting list for one. It could be one to two years, I was told.
“I guess I’ll have to keep living with you,” I said to Julian. “But I’m still not sleeping with you.”
“That’s okay,” he said. “As long as you don’t mind the people I bring home with me.”
I made my own corner of the living room quite cozy. I hung clotheslines with curtains around the square which contained the sofa I now slept on, a small cabinet of drawers with my clothes in it, a radio and a pile of my favorite books. Since the sofa was in use, Julian would have to take any new girlfriends straight to the bedroom, but that was his problem. He could do anything he wanted to do. In the meantime, I would be getting caught up on literary classics and plotting the demise of the hipster movement.
After a few weeks, I started noticing something unexpected. I called my sister up.
“I think you may have a point with that purity thing.”
“Yeah, it’s like the longer I abstain from sex, the stronger I become. It’s almost as if the energy I would normally expend on having sex is getting stored up inside me, and it’s growing.”
I paused, waiting for her to respond. She had the powers, too…was she experiencing the same thing?
“Um…” She sounded crestfallen. “I kind of fell off the wagon and slept with one of my boo-boos. So the second virginity didn’t work out. I don’t think I wanna try a third time.”
“No, I’d imagine not.”
“Hey, I got a nice ring out of it.”
I hung up the phone. So much for bonding over abstinence.
Then I remembered the guys RedGirl referred to as her boo-boos were the Squircal men. She must’ve gotten back in with them, somehow. A part of me had hoped against hope that she would join me in trying to overthrow this system, since it went against the conservative ideas that she claimed to stand for. But she wouldn’t. I was by myself on this one.
Julian wasn’t bringing around any girlfriends yet, but he also wasn’t at home a lot. He would often come back late at night. I would listen for him from behind my curtains, twisting my body to the side so that I could hear his footsteps. I missed my pretentious little jerk.
Each day, the pressure on my pelvis and my belly increased. I constantly had to shift positions while I slept, and I ended up sleeping on my back most of the time.
The thing I carried within me grew heavier. I couldn’t help wondering just how ugly this baby would be when it was finally born.
One afternoon in the eighth week of my pregnancy of resentment, I came home and found Nova standing in front of my curtains. A big tear was dangling from her nose.
“Is something wrong?” I asked in a tentative voice.
“I was looking at your sofa.” Her voice caught. My new bed was pitiful—that was true. She turned her tear-streaked face toward me. “I wa… I want for all of us to be friends.”
I frowned. “Are you dating Julian?”
“Yes.” She wiped at her eyes. “I don’t know what it is. You’ve been so different lately. We’re still friends, right?”
What the fuck was I supposed to say? “Of course we are. Whatever is going on between you and Julian has nothing to do with us.”
She brightened. “Oh, good! Would you like to come to the strip club to celebrate our friendship? Julian and I are going.”
She gave a tiny half-sob.
“Sure,” I said.
“Yay!” She clapped her hands. Julian came out of the bedroom. “Blue is going with us, Julian!”
“That is not necessary,” he said.
“Yes, it is!” Nova insisted. “We have to show her we’re still her friends!”
“All right, fine,” Julian said. “We’ll prove our loyalty to her.”
And they did. Nova made Julian buy me drinks. I sipped at the alcohol, secretly wishing that it would finish off the squirming creature in my belly.
I was in the middle of a nightmare. Everyone around me was flirting, lusting, cheating on their partners, I suspected—it was a den of filth. I had never been this disgusted by it before. It made me feel nauseated. I bent over, clutching my stomach, my body gripped by contractions. I held on to the bar and moaned in pain.
“Are you okay?” I heard Julian ask. “Did you have too much to drink?”
A blob of pale blue light dropped to the floor beneath me. It crawled away and vanished between the tables.
“Oh, no,” I said weakly. “I think that was my baby.”
Julian moved away from me slightly.
The blob appeared again in the center of the room, stopped for a moment, and then burst into multiple shafts of light, which pierced anyone in their way.
And with that, sexy time at the club was over. The horndogs near the stage shrugged and got up from their chairs. A dancer halted her slide mid-pole, her heels pointed up in the air, her face confused. Julian stepped out of an embrace with Nova and cleared his throat, as if he’d been struck by the reverse of a Cupid’s arrow.
Well, here was an achievement to be proud of. I had managed to kill everyone’s libido.
In a couple of minutes, the strip club emptied out.
“So…are you coming over to my place tonight?” Nova asked Julian.
“Oh…no, I don’t think so…I think I’m just gonna go home.”
As Julian followed me out of the club, Nova was wearing her lost puppy expression again. I had no sympathy for little lost animals like her, so I didn’t look back or say anything.
Perhaps giving birth wasn’t always a bad idea.
Later that evening, I leaned in the bedroom doorframe, my hand on my hip. “I assume I’ll be sleeping with you tonight, Julian,” I said.
“What? I don’t really feel like sleeping with anyone right now,” he said.
“I know. I don’t mean it like that, silly,” I said. “Your balls aren’t gonna work right for a while. My apologies for that, by the way. No, I mean I’m moving back to the bed. I’m sick and tired of the fucking sofa.”
“But no sex?” he pleaded.
“We’ll be completely chaste,” I assured him. “It’ll be like you were a virgin all over again.”