Guernica Magazine

Doppelgängers

Later, when the rest of the girls said they were dipping out to another bar, Fiona stayed behind. “Use a condom!” Tish had whispered in her ear before giving her a slap on the butt, like a coach sending a player out on the field. The post Doppelgängers appeared first on Guernica.
Illustration: Ansellia Kulikku.

Over brunch at Clinton Street Bakery on Sunday, Fiona debriefed Tish about what happened after they’d parted ways at the club on B and Third last night. His name was Gabriel—the man whose bed Fiona had rolled out of an hour ago—and after they’d scarfed down cheese slices from Ray’s, she’d climbed the stairs to his spot in Alphabet City, swishing her hips in his face up the three flights. About his penis, she reported: average length, but thick enough so that her thumb didn’t touch her fingers when she wrapped a fist around its base. A notorious size queen, Tish made a gesture of kissing her fingers pressed to her lips, then opened her hand in the air like flower petals blooming. “The sisterhood of hoeing hoes welcomes you back,” she said. “Congratulations, you slut!”

Fiona laughed.

“Now that you got laid, watch,” Tish said. “They’ll start circling.”

“You’re reinstating my membership?”

“Men are like sharks. They can smell another man’s dick on you like blood in the water.”

“He was cute, right?” said Fiona. “I liked that little gap tooth.”

Tish made a noise, sucking her teeth. “You always do this.”

“Do what?”

“You don’t know nothing about him, babe. Trying to fall in love with his teeth?”

“I think he said he was a teacher.” Fiona struggled to remember, but the hangover had her in a haze. “Something with high school kids.”

“In other words, he’s brokety-broke.” Tish drained the rest of her bloody Mary, and raised a finger to get the waiter’s attention. “The sisterhood has you on probation.” She lifted an eyebrow, making Fiona laugh again.

Her Motorola rang, an unknown number flashing across its little window, and Fiona instinctively rejected the call. The smile on her lips died. Where was that waiter? She swirled the last dregs of the mimosa in the flute and tilted the glass to her mouth. The phone beeped, alerting her to a new voicemail. Fiona knew what they wanted. She’d missed the last three payments on her MasterCard, was four months past due to Sallie Mae. Envelopes appeared in her mailbox: late fees and overdraft notices, ballooning interest rates, letters from the collections department threatening Serious Further Action. She ripped up the letters and threw them in the trash, sometimes without even opening them. Then the phone calls started.

Tish asked if she was free Wednesday. “My brother and his little friends are throwing some rooftop party.”

“Where?”

“It might be dumb. I mean, it’s Malik.” Tish rolled her eyes. “But whatever, he said it’s an open bar.” She pulled out her BlackBerry and tapped on the keys. “At that new hotel on Rivington,” she said, then rattled off the names of some DJs Fiona had never heard of. “End of summer, blah-blah-blah…” Tish looked up from her phone and frowned. “Is it really Labor Day next weekend?”

“Shit,” said Fiona. September had come too soon. The woman she was subletting the apartment from was due back in the city November first. After next week, Fiona had only two months left. “What have we been doing with our lives?” she said. There was a joke in her voice.

Tish smiled. “The first rule of the sisterhood—”

“Wait, you said Wednesday?” Fiona said. “I’m supposed to be going on a date.”

“What? Who?”

“The guy last night—”

“Oh come on,” Tish said. “You can just change it.”

Fiona hesitated.

“Girl. You need options in this life,” Tish said. “Blood in the water, remember?”

Fiona nodded slowly. Willy, her ex, had disappeared in May. What had she been doing since? Besides think about him, constantly. Besides imagine that he might show up at her door, “sorry” in his eyes. She wouldn’t forgive him. Not right away.

“Blood in the water,” Fiona repeated.

“And also,” Tish said. “You gotta quit with these artist types, love.”

Tish strictly went after hedge fund managers, I-bankers, the occasional corporate lawyer. Her boyfriends were often older, white. Tish was thirty-one but could pass for years younger—her brown skin as unblemished as any of the high-school girls in their white shirts and plaid skirts riding the subway in the late afternoons—despite her partying ways, the vodka and coke and cigarettes.

The waiter stopped by the table, finally. “Anything else I can get you ladies?” His gaze met Fiona’s for a second, then flicked back to Tish and stayed there.

“We’ve been waiting for refills,” Tish said. The waiter apologized, murmured something about being short-staffed today. She interrupted him and said they might as well take the check.

The waiter was a Lower East Side hipster with skinny white wrists and a tattoo on the inside of his left forearm. He was around their age, or maybe a few years younger, the skin around his eye sockets still smooth. He drew the slim black folder

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