Almost Alive Again


She knew it was a beautiful night. 

The moon was shining through an opening in the clouds, and there was a gentle breeze that felt cool against her body. The light coat of sweat on her neck chilled her in the breeze, and she closed her eyes for a moment to take it in, tilting her head back to let the wind have better access to her skin. The way it cooled her off reminded her of how she could open the freezer and cool off for a moment after coming home from a long run around the park trail. She liked to think it felt like an approach to Heaven after people would pass on. For the good ones, at least.

“Sarah? Oh, good, you’re still here. Hey girl, you forgot your sunglasses,” a voice said to her from the doorway of the bar.

Sarah opened her eyes, and turned toward the door, smiling at her friend.

“Thanks, Jess. What would I do without you?” Sarah asked with a smile. 

“Probably have to get a new job, or find a new roommate,” Jess laughed, “But no worries. I would have brought them home after work anyway. It’s not like anyone could confuse these for being anyone else’s at this place,” Jess said with a wink.

The bar was known as much for its reputation and clientele as it was for its cheap prices and strong drinks. The bikers and older crowd were not necessarily the type that would typically be found wearing bright pink sunglasses, though their fashion sense did often border on ridiculous in other ways. 

Jess handed the sunglasses to her friend, and leaned in and whispered in a quieter voice, “I expect I’ll be getting some kind of reward for my good deed when I get home, yeah? It sure would be nice to… decompress, after such a long day dealing with Tiny Mike and that one crazy lady. I’m still picking up glass from that bottle she threw. So, you know… it would be just wonderful to, oh, I don’t know, get a special massage tonight?” She winked as she whispered the last bit.

Sarah was glad that the clouds had moved to cover most of the moonlight, hiding her face in shadow, though she was certain she was blushing hard enough that she was glowing in the dark. 

“I’ll, um, see what I can arrange.” 

She was never the most suave in the dating world, and definitely did not consider herself to be one empowered with the gift of game.

“God, you are just so fucking sexy when you get all shy like that,” Jess laughed. She leaned in and hugged Sarah, giving her a quick pat on the butt. “I’ll see you in a couple hours. Get home safe.” With a smile and another wink, Jess took a few bouncy steps backward, bit her lip, and turned to walk back into the bar. 

Sarah laughed and said she would get there safely. She looked back up at the moon, and happened to catch the silhouette of a few small birds fly through the air. Yeah, it’s definitely a beautiful night, she thought.

Sarah had never considered herself to be gay, or even bisexual. She’d had nothing but boyfriends in her whole twenty-three years, and didn’t consider the one time she got drunk at her brother’s going away party before he left for college, where she kissed a random girl in a game of Never Have I Ever, to be anything more than youthful stupidity and liquid courage. 

Then came her move to this new town, deciding on a whim that she needed to go out and explore some of life on her own, away from family and the low caliber friendships she had struggled to maintain in the face of her schooling. She didn’t consider herself to be the most promising student in college, but she was proud to have gotten through it and finished with a bachelor’s degree before her brother did. His falling in love with a girl in his first semester and getting her pregnant had done a number on his goals, and he decided to give raising a family a shot. “School will always be there for later,” he’d told her when she spoke with him on the phone after hearing that she’d become an aunt. She was so surprised at his decision, considering he had always been the brightest student, a decent athlete on the high school football team, and always talked about starting a business after college.

However, it had turned out that making her own way through life even with a bachelor’s degree, in this economy, everything was a coin toss. And hers had landed on tails more often than not.

After job hunting for two months, her meager savings from her job as an office assistant were depleting faster than she had anticipated, and her idea of finding a job that would place her squarely in the middle class on the pay scale seemed to be more of a dream than a next step. Her friend and former classmate, Timothy, had moved to this city just after graduating back in their hometown. It was he who had invited her to come up and stay with him while she got on her feet. That was until he secured a new girlfriend, and was keen on moving her in to his apartment. Which meant Sarah would have to go off and make her way with a different home base.

The night Timothy gave her the news, she decided to go spend some of the last of her money at the bar, in hopes that she might come to a drunken epiphany on her next step, or at least obtain a hangover powerful enough to convince her that going back home to her father and stepmother might be a great idea. 

When she arrived at the first bar she had found online within an affordable taxi drive’s distance, she noticed that it was full of college aged young adults around her age. 

With a few dozen hormonal boys surrounding her while she stood at the bar waiting for a bartender to notice her, she could feel the eyes of everyone around her studying her. She did not dress in the same fashion as the rest of the girls, with her business casual slacks and blouse making her look older and more professional than the average young woman in her early 20’s. Such as it was, she did not own many outfits, and most everything she had brought with her was intended to be worn at job interviews. She took a moment to gaze out at the crowd, hoping to find another wallflower she might be able to break the ice with and not have to drink the night away solo.

Sarah had brushed her hair away from her face, and looked back towards the bar, and saw before her a young woman, covered in tattoos and sporting almost a punk-like pixie haircut, glowing bright purple in the lights of the bar. She was standing in front of her behind the bar, with her hands resting on the bartop.

“…Hello? What would you like?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t… I wasn’t paying attention. What did you ask?”, Sarah had stumbled over her words. She had never seen a girl that looked like this one, outside of music videos and magazine covers in the grocery store aisles in her hometown.

“What can I get you to drink, hon?”

“Oh, um, can I get a beer, please?”

The girl had stood straight, resting her hands on her hips. “A beer, huh? Wow, let me check.” She looked over her shoulder at the barback, who was carrying an armful of beer bottles, and a mixed drink in his other hand. “Hey Brodie, we got any more beers here?”

Brodie responded without looking her way, “Nope, no beers in this bar!”, laughing as he set the mixed drink on the bar in front of a girl, who used the drink as a photo subject for her social media posts. He handed the beer bottles out to a few taller guys at the end of the bar. “Never seen a beer here in my life.”

The bartender turned back to Sarah. “You’re gonna have to be a little more specific on that request, doll”, she chuckled with a slow wink.

Sarah swallowed hard. Nobody had ever winked at her. She had seen it in movies, but that was always a guy winking to his high school sweetheart or something. Were girls even allowed to wink at each other? 

“Um, I’ll take one of those,” Sarah said, pointing at a green bottle with a gold label.

The bartender whipped out a bar key from her back pocket, grabbing the beer bottle from the counter without even looking at it, and decapped it in one smooth motion, as if she had done so ten thousand times while blindfolded, and handed the bottle over the counter to Sarah.

“So, uh, no offense, but you seem like you’re completely lost. Are you new around here?”

Sarah smiled, and replied “Yes, sort of. I’ve lived here for a couple weeks, but I’ve not really been going out much or anything.”

The bartender looked Sarah up and down, raising an eyebrow with a smile on her face. 

“I guess that’s why you decided to get so dressed up for us then, huh?”

Sarah’s eyes opened wide, as she looked down at her clothes. She responded, “Oh, no, I—I’ve been trying to find a job, and I figured I might as well just be ready for a callback at any time in case I get an interview. I didn’t really bring a lot of clothes with me when I moved here.”

The bartender grinned, and shot her hand forward.

“What’s your name, angel?”

Sarah rubbed her hand on her pants to dry it off, the beer bottle having left it’s condensation on her, and reached out to take the girl’s hand.

“My name is Sarah. What’s yours?”

Shaking her hand gently, and with a bright smile with shining white teeth, the bartender responded, “Name’s Jestine. My friends call me Jess. You can call me anytime though.”

As she let go of Sarah’s hand and walked away, Sarah realized Jestine had left a small piece of paper in her palm. It reminded her of a magic trick. Unfolding the paper, and trying not to get it wet with her slippery fingers from the beer in her other hand, she saw the note, with a phone number, signed ‘Jess’.

Three days later, Sarah had finally worked up the courage to call Jess. More accurately, Timothy had started to help Sarah pack, in order to make room for his new girlfriend’s stuff, and so the phone call was more of a last ditch for help before resigning to the idea of moving back in with her father. 

Jess was the image of hospitability, telling Sarah to come on over with her stuff, that she could stay for as long as she needed. Sarah was wary of whatever ulterior motives Jess could have for allowing a random stranger come stay with her, but her options were, admittedly, in short supply. And besides, she could always tell Timothy where she was going to be staying, and if he didn’t hear from her in a couple days, at least the cops would have a lead on where to start the manhunt.

The same evening, Sarah knocked on the door of the apartment Jess had given her the address to. A moment later, it swung open, revealing Jess and her revealing outfit. Granted, it was a crop top and short shorts, but it showed more skin than what Sarah had expected to see. To say she was shocked would be accurate, but it was how Sarah seemed to lose control over where her eyes were drawn that was more shocking to herself. 

“Roomie!”, shouted Jess, stepping barefoot on to the patio, and grabbing Sarah in a hug. “I’m so glad you’re here! This is going to be so much fun.” She took one of Sarah’s bags, and held the door open for her. “Come on in!”

Over the next two weeks, Sarah became accustomed to Jess’ rambunctious nature and seemingly infinite supply of energy. Sarah would fall asleep on the couch while Jess would stream movies throughout the night, whispering hints at the upcoming jump scares and plot twists. Jess was very kind, and did not ever seem to crowd her, or question her too strongly about her financial situation.

The night had finally come, however, in the middle of the third week, when Jess asked Sarah if she was okay with maybe paying rent at some point, or if she needed some help.

“Oh, no, I can definitely pay rent! I just… I still haven’t found a job, and nobody is calling back like I thought they would,” Sarah said sheepishly.

“Girl, don’t even worry about it! I’ll get you a job at the other bar I work at, and that way we can drive out there together and we can save some money together!”, Jess said excitedly.

“Oh wow, really? That would be so great Jess, thank you! Wow, thank you so much, I never even thought about asking you for help finding a job. You’re so wonderful!”, Sarah said, reaching over and grabbing Jess in a hug. “But… I don’t know a thing about bartending.”

“Don’t mention it, lovely. You’ll do great, and it’ll be fun. And besides, I’m an excellent teacher,”, Jess said. She looked Sarah in the eye, smiled, and leaned in and planted a kiss on Sarah’s lips, before standing up and walking to the kitchen. “Are you hungry for breakfast?”

Sarah was frozen in shock. 

She had never been kissed on the lips so nonchalantly, much less by a beautiful woman, while sober. Her hand reached up to her face, her fingers gently resting on her lips where she’d been kissed, as she looked over at Jess bouncing her way to the kitchen.

Jess reached down to a cabinet drawer, and pulled out a frying pan, placing it on the stove. She walked over to the refrigerator, opened it, looked around and grabbed the milk from the door. As she stood up and closed the refrigerator door, she jumped slightly when she saw Sarah standing right beside her.

“Oh, shit, you scared me,” Jess laughed.

Sarah stood beside Jess, looking her in the eye. Her gaze traveled up to her hair, and back down to her cheeks, her nose, down to her lips. 

Jess’s laughter subsided, and she stood staring at Sarah in a similar way. 

Sarah could feel herself starting to get hot, as sweat started to bead on the back of her neck and under her arms. She had never felt so nervous, and so excited at the same time. She reached one hand out, gently touching Jess’ cheek.

Then she reached in and brought her lips to Jess’ mouth, and kissed her softly, before pulling away. She looked down at the ground, expecting and waiting for an offended rebuttal from Jess, to be chastised for being so forward, for being so gross, for being…

And then she felt Jess’ hand under her chin, raising it back up, and with an enormous smile, welcomed another kiss. This kiss last longer and was both sublimely gentle and urgent at the same time. Pulling away ever so slightly, Sarah whispered with her eyes closed, in a daze, “But… I’m not gay…” in a soft voice.

Jess replied quietly, “Neither am I. Now kiss me again.”

Jess reached out to her side to place the carton of milk on the counter, missed, and let it fall to the floor.

“I’m still not gay,”, Sarah whispered to herself, two months later as she stood on the walkway facing the parking lot of the bar. She had struggled with how to identify herself after the two months of living, sleeping, and working with Jess.

“Not that it would be bad if I was, right? But I’m probably just bi, and that’d be okay too. I can still go get a boyfriend someday, right?” she asked herself. She had always imagined later life to consist of having a husband, maybe a kid or two, and a dog. Definitely a dog, cats just made the whole house stink, she had thought to herself.

Yet, here I am, debating the pros and cons of being considered gay in today’s world, as I walk through the parking lot of the bar where my lover is working, the girl who sleeps with me in bed and wakes me up to do things in the middle of the night that I never imagined doing with another woman. 

“What a weird world,”, she said aloud as she looked to the sky, searching for the moon behind the clouds.

“You’re right about that much.”

Sarah snapped her head back to reality, her eyes trying to focus on where she thought the voice had come from. The parking lot was dark, and it was still too early for the bars to have closed. The parking lot lights were out, there were no bar patrons in the lot sharing drunken stories, and most importantly, no car headlights driving down the nearby road to light the surrounding area.

“Who’s there?”, Sarah asked in a stern voice. 

I’ve got mace in my purse, she thought. I just need to remember how to use the damn thing. Where did I put it, she wondered as her hand rummaged through the bag. She felt the cable from her phone charger, the tampons, the makeup compact, random small coins. Fuck, where is the fucking spray, her mind screamed.

Sarah heard footsteps now coming from a different direction than the voice had come from, more behind her than out in front of her. This time, a different voice broke the silence.

“Don’t scream.”


Back inside the bar, Jestine was winding her body through the crowd of patrons. She loved working at this bar, mostly because it was such a vastly different collection of patrons from her weekend gig at the college bar further inside city limits.

Here, the scent of the leather jackets and vests the bikers wore, the cologne of the older crowd of retired military men, and the occasional pizza or wings the guys would order helped make this place feel just that much more homely and cozy. 

There was a crash of breaking glass further inside the bar, followed by cheering and applause. Jestine stood on her tiptoes in order to gain a better view.

Frank. Why is it always Frank?, Jestine thought to herself as she shook her head.

“Frank, what the fuck are you breaking now?”, she yelled in the drunken man’s direction.

“Oh shit. Sorry Jess, it wasn’t my fault. I was throwing my dart and I missed,” Frank slurred. 

As Jestine walked closer to the crime scene, she found a beer bottle shattered on the floor underneath the dart board hanging on the wall. The small shelf hung on the wall intended to hold the small bucket of darts and extra tips often pulled double duty as a temporary drink holder for dart players. Luckily for the bar, most dart leagues were comprised of players that were at least accurate enough to not hit the shelf three feet away from the board. Most. 

“Hey Jess… I hate to ask, but, um, I hadn’t even had a drink from that one yet. Can I get another one on the house, maybe?” Frank mumbled in desperation.

“Hey, Frank, leave the girl alone, your drunk ass wasn’t even scheduled for tonight,” another member of Frank’s dart league teased, laughing. Frank’s stature changed like a deflating air mattress. 

Jestine was always impressed by how such a massive man could seem so fragile amongst his friends. Although a messy drunk, Frank had always been a positive staple of the bar and the local community in this part of town. Known for being a gentle giant, he had also singlehandedly stopped more than his fair share of drunken bar fights. Often, he only had to step in between the dueling drunkards to sober each party up enough to end things quietly.

Then again, on the rare occasion he came across someone who could not stand to be reasoned with, Frank made easy work of tossing them out of the bar and knocking some sense into them and some teeth out of them.

“It’s okay, Bobby. Frank, you’re lucky you’re my favorite asshole. I’ll get you another on the house, but you’re cleaning that shit up,” Jestine said with a wink as she playfully shoved the bar’s broom and trash can against Frank.

“Aw, you’re the best, Jess,” Frank said with a beaming smile. He wiped the sweat off his brow and moved to clean up the shards of glass and sticky beer label on the floor. 

As Jestine walked back up to the bar, she shouted a few patrons’ names, asking what they wanted. She listened to half a dozen orders and got to work grabbing beers and mixing drinks.

A few hours later, Jestine was turning off the lights to the bar, setting the alarm, and locking the front door. As she stepped on to the front patio of the bar, she stretched her arms above her head and jerked her head from side to side, popping her neck. 

A long night, but damn it if Frank didn’t make up for all that mess with that tip he left, Jestine thought to herself. 

She couldn’t remember ever leaving the bar feeling anything but content with her decision a year ago to come to this bar at the suggestion of a friend to pick up an extra shift. With the minimal drama, the older crowd who, for the most part, were not always trying to get into her pants, and the fact that a lot of the mature crowd had more disposable income than the college kids she typically dealt with, it was a pretty solid gig in her eyes and she had been lucky to get a permanent position here.

If only the drive home wasn’t so damn far at night, I’d probably work here every day, she thought to herself. Oh well, at least I’ve got that gorgeous woman waiting for me at home. That definitely helps make the drive more bearable.

Jestine walked up to her car, checking her phone in her hand as she got closer. No missed calls or texts were awaiting her attention. She got into her car, throwing her backpack on the passenger seat, and began the drive home. Looking at the radio, she noticed the time was closing in on 4:00 AM. 

Dammit, I took longer closing up than I thought, she thought. Sarah is going to be asleep, and I’m going to have to wait until tomorrow to get that massage. And I could definitely use one after tonight.

Jestine chuckled to herself, as she started to rub her neck with her hand. She knew she was lucky; Sarah was a beautiful girl, and was practically Jestine’s opposite. But Jestine really liked how she was so different – she knew she would rarely be surprised by what came out of Sarah’s mouth. She had never dated anyone that was so open minded and intelligent. Most of her previous partners had never lasted more than a couple months, and it was usually a very turbulent ride. 

It would seem that gaslighting was a skillset not constrained to the male sex, in her experience. Even some of the girls that she had enjoyed a few weeks with tended to devolve their arguments to the point of shaming and ridicule at Jestine’s life choices; a far throw from the sweet pillow talk that they would engage in for the first few weeks. 

When Sarah came into Jestine’s life, it was shortly after a breakup that Jestine had dealt with just a few days earlier. She had decided to give one of the guys she had dated a year or so ago a second chance. Within a month, he was back to his old ways of attempting to shame Jestine for the life she had chosen, and for the life goals she had shared with him. She decided to cut it off with him one night at the biker bar, when he had stormed in with an attitude demanding her to apologize for how she had spoken to him in their most recent argument.

Jestine could see in his eyes the vitriol he was ready to send her way after she spoke up and told him to not let the door hit him in the ass on them way out. And he likely would have had a nice tirade, if he hadn’t noticed Frank put his pint glass on the counter beside him. Looking from Jestine, to Frank’s glass, and tilting his head back to look Frank in the face, he quickly lowered his head and glared at Jestine.

“Fuck you, you dumb bitch. I was just trying to save you from wasting your fucking life, and you don’t even realize it. I’m the fuck out,” he shouted on his way out of the bar. The patrons in his way did not move to give him a path, and so he had to sway to and fro on his way out, failing to make a swift exit.

As the door had swung shut slowly behind him as he left, the bar erupted in laughter. 

“Good riddance to bad bullshit,” Tracy had laughed. Tracy was one of the bikers that frequented the bar, and often organized a few rides that would just happen to end their days pulling into the  He pulled out his wallet, silver chain dangling from it, and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. Walking up to the bar, he dropped it into the tip jar, an old whiskey bottle with the label ripped off. A black marker had been used to write on the outside of the bottle, “Save The Trees and Tits”, with a crude drawing of a top-heavy pin-up style woman posing. 

“Let’s all put in and make our girl Jess’ day a little better, what the fuck do ya’ll say?” Tracy shouted to the bar as he shoved his bill into the bottle. The bar patrons shouted their agreement, almost pulling their wallets out simultaneously as if it had been a dance rehearsal practiced for days earlier. 

Jestine had laughed until she cried, coming from around the bar and hugging everyone in the building. Shouts of affirmation and praise for the strong young woman filled the air for the rest of the night. Jestine was able to pay off her credit card with most of the tips, and stowed the rest of the money in the shoebox in her closet for a later rainy day. She loved that bar, in spite of it’s ridiculous name. 

Nonetheless, The Doghouse had become a staple in her daily mental getaway. Looking forward to the crowd, the music, the smells, and the terrible jokes and hilarious stories the people there shared with one another provided a few hours of respite for Jestine. She wasn’t ogled at by young guys just because she had tattoos – in fact, the men at The Doghouse tended to have more ink than even she did, and she considered herself a bit of a collector of ink. The retired soldiers, the bikers, and the outcasts of society that frequented that bar likely had more ink in them than two tattoo parlors probably owned in their inventory. It was starting to become a second home.

As Jestine pulled into her parking spot at the apartment complex, she looked up at her apartment’s balcony. The lights were all off, and the neighborhood was quiet – a small blessing, considering the amount of students that lived in the cheap housing. House parties and drunken kids shouting into the night air in the hopes of stirring people from their sleep were a common occurrence. 

Jestine grabbed her backpack from the seat beside her, got out of the car and closed the door. She took a moment to close her eyes, and inhaled deeply, smelling the dew on the grass and the fresh air. She could smell the slight hint of cigarette smoke emanating from her clothes and hair, but it didn’t bother her. She had quit smoking the previous year, gone cold turkey and been a massive bitch to her friends for a few weeks, but the health benefits were practically instantaneous. She felt lighter, and could take deeper breaths than she remembered. The Doghouse was one of the last few bars that allowed smoking indoors, since it was outside of the city limits. Having grown up stealing or buying cigarettes from older friends, some who had graduated and some who had decided high school just wasn’t for them, she had been smoking since her early teen years. She knew it was a bad habit, but there was never a strong enough reason for her to quit. 

That’s how she felt and would say as much to anyone who made the suggestion for her to quit. She was adamant that there was never a good enough reason to bother with the hassle of going through the withdrawals, and maintained a stubborn mindset about it.

Then her mother got cancer and died within four months from getting the news. Lung cancer. Her mother had smoked since she was a teen as well, back before it was a social stigma and was known to be an early ticket to a premature end.

Jestine finished smoking her last pack on the day of the funeral, and as predicted, went through withdrawals in a bad way. She had gained a few pounds from eating snacks to keep her hands and mouth busy, and was in a tremendously cranky mood for a little over a month. However, when she was finally able to not immediately desire a cigarette first thing in the morning, she took a moment to smile and think of her mother. It was a pain in the ass to have dealt with, but she was starting to not regret the decision.

Walking up the stairs, Jestine felt the cool air blow through the walkway, blowing her hair around her face and rising a chill on her arms. She welcomed the breeze, and was happy to be home. Turning her key and opening the front door, she gently laid her backpack down on the ground beside her entryway table, where a bowl filled with assorted and individually wrapped chocolates sat greeting her. Even though she had gotten over the cigarette cravings, one bad habit that stuck with her was grabbing a chocolate on her way out the door every day. 

Jestine laid her keys on the table gently, trying to be quiet and not cause too much noise with her entry. She was sure Sarah was dead asleep after such a long day and dead to the world, but she didn’t want to chance waking her just due to being careless.

Locking the door behind her, she walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, reaching in and grabbing a beer from the dwindling six-pack she had in there. A dark amber was her favorite nightcap, and she would often lay in bed with her backlit e-book and read for a while, enjoying the brew and letting sleep take over.

Popping the top off with her bar key, gently taking the cap and placing it on the counter, she looked around the living room. Sarah would often stay up watching scary movies while she would wait for Jestine to finish her shift, and on those nights, Jestine would see the light from the TV shining through the blinds of the window from the parking lot. She had made a habit of creeping up the stairs, quietly turning the key and doorknob, and throwing the front door open and shouting at Sarah. She loved how she would scream in horror, followed usually by a thrown pillow in her direction, before Sarah would crack up laughing and calling her names that could make every person in The Doghouse blush.

Jestine smiled at the memories as she walked over to the couch and grabbed her e-book from the coffee table in front of it. Powering it on, she turned off the kitchen light and gently stepped her way to the bedroom. Pushing the door open as quietly as possible, I need to get some WD-40 for that damn squeaky hinge, Jestine thought to herself. 

She made her way across the room, and placed her e-book and beer bottle down on the nightstand by her bed. She kicked off her shoes, reached down to take her socks off, and tossed them into the laundry basket against the wall at the foot of the bed. She could hear the gentle tap of the plastic basket from her free throw into the darkness. Pumping her fist ever so slightly, she then reached down and undressed from her pants and shirt, letting them fall to the side of the nightstand, and grabbed the corner of her blanket and opened up her side of the bed. Crawling into her bed, she gently arched her arm over to Sarah’s side of the bed to hold her as she kissed her shoulder and back goodnight. 

Jestine’s arm rounded empty space, her palm coming in contact with the sheet on the mattress. It felt cold to the touch. She reached out further, feeling for her partner around the bed. Coming up empty handed, she turned back to her nightstand and fumbled for the switch on her bedside lamp. 

With the lamp flickering on, and the room illuminated in it’s orange glow, Jestine looked around the room, crawling over to the opposite side of the bed and checked the ground in case Sarah had rolled out of bed. Seeing nothing there, she threw her legs over and stepped out of bed, glancing around the room. 

Jestine walked around her small apartment, and found nothing signifying where Sarah could be. She went back to the room, grabbed her phone out of her pants pocket, and checked it’s screen for any missed calls or messages.


“Sarah?”, Jestine asked the emptiness. “Hey babe – are you here?”

Silence returned no answer. 

Jestine’s brow furrowed, as she thought back to when she said goodbye to Sarah earlier that evening. 

She didn’t seem upset with me, did she? Did I say something wrong?, Jestine questioned herself. 

Thinking of previous relationships and their toxic conclusions, her mind went immediately to the dark side of assumptions. Perhaps she had crowded Sarah, or been too forward with her, and she decided to just leave town, or find another place to stay for the night.

Why would she not be home right now? 

Sarah had never been one to stay out late, at least not without Jestine by her side. In fact, it was Jestine who would always initiate their late nights. And with Sarah not having a car, she was typically the one happiest to join in an adventurous night driving down the highway, or visiting house parties and laughing at the social circles they had both been members of.

Jestine pulled her phone out, scrolled down to Sarah’s name, and dialed it. 

She’s going to think I’m annoying as fuck, Jestine grimaced. She didn’t want to take too many chances at pushing Sarah away – it was wonderful having a sane, attractive friend who she felt a bond with, and Jestine tried hard to not let her jaded past affect her conversations or take over her moods with needless worries.

But it’s four in the morning, and she’s not home. She left hours before I did, and she never even texted me. Maybe she got an Uber to take her to pick up food?, Jestine’s mind raced.

The phone rang up until Sarah’s voicemail left it’s greeting, and at the beep, Jestine hung up. She pulled up her messaging app and sent a quick note to Sarah.

Hey babe, just checking in, saw you weren’t home. I hope everything’s alright, let me know if you’re okay. Just missing that sweet booty being next to me in bed!!

With the message being sent and the delivery notification lighting up, Jestine put her phone on the counter. She made sure the ringtone was set to be audible, and turned the volume all the way up. She walked over to her bedroom, and grabbed her beer off of the nightstand and turned off her e-book. Walking back into the living room, she grabbed the TV remote off of the sofa’s arm, and pulled up a streaming channel to search for a romantic comedy to lift her spirits.

Just as she hit the play button on the program, she heard a notification chime from her phone. She gently tossed the remote on to the couch, and walked back to the kitchen. Grabbing her phone off the counter, she opened up her messaging app, and saw a message from a number she didn’t recognize.

UNKNOWN: is this the bartender?