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I was just old enough to drink when Stephanie and I noticed each other at work. She was tall, skinny, and pale. I was not quite as fashionable, but funny and likable. I had a party and one thing led to another - we ended up in the bathroom with our hands in each others' brown-red hair tasting cheap beer on one another's breath. Her dress still had the store tag in it, my fingers snagged on it and we laughed into each other's mouths. The moment was delayed and we were flushed, not knowing where to turn in the tiny space. We left the bathroom and she left the party. The next weekend, I went with Stephanie and her son to Chicago. We drove down listening to The Smiths and talking about the nights we would have drinking and chatting when we got there. Her sister had a loft, we would stay there and her sister would babysit her infant son.

The loft was huge and her sister had indigo hair. The sofas were red velvet rectangles on ink dyed bamboo, pink shag carpeting wound into my toes. I was in love with the loft, in love with Chicago, and hot for this girl. We left the baby with her sister and drank until 4 in a corner bar. We ate Chicago style hot dogs and went back to her sister's to crash. We woke up the next afternoon and went thrift store shopping. Later, Stephanie and her sister decided to go to a party. I offered to babysit and let them go. While they got ready, her sister's room mate began a strange search of the loft. Under couch cushions, around stray dishes, in the garbage even. She explained that she was looking for some heroin she'd lost. Don't worry, she reassured me, this was not a big deal. She just didn't want to feel like she'd blown the money on nothing. Stephanie and her sister got home later and they were both bombed. Stephanie was vomiting red wine and maybe blood. I held her hair back and got her some water, and we went to bed. She wanted to be with me, but I refused. I told her I'd rather just hold her for now, and leave it at that. I stroked her hair and she cried a little bit before she fell asleep.

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