Balancing Act | Erica Peplin

The women brought a blanket to the park. Jordan strung a rope between two trees and Laura sat on the ground with a book in her lap. After crossing from one end of the rope to the other, Jordan got off the rope and leaned her head against Laura’s shoulder.

Two men approached. One had a pink face and the other had a beard.

“Is this a circus thing?” the man with the pink face asked.  

“It’s a slack line,” Jordan said.

The men inspected the rope. The one with the beard licked his lips.

“Are you guys together?” 

“Yes,” Jordan said. “We are.”

“That’s cool,” he said. “We couldn’t tell.”

“Well now you know,” Laura said.

It was the perfect time for the men to walk away. The women were not going to flirt with them, follow them home or make out with them in their room. But the men didn’t leave because they were nice guys. The one with the pink face worked for a software company that funded projects in foreign countries. The one with the beard had three sisters. He knew about feminism and he was fine with it.  

“Do you live around here?” the man with the pink face asked.

“I live over there,” Jordan said. She pointed toward the edge of the park. “And she’s in Battery Park.”

Laura touched her girlfriend’s arm. She wanted to make her stop talking.

“What do you do?” the man with the beard asked.

“Photography,” Jordan said. “I just graduated.”

“That’s cool,” he said.

The men looked at Laura and waited for her to talk. She moved her knees in front of her chest.

“I’m an architect,” she said.

The men nodded.

“I have a question,” the man with the pink face said.

“What?” Laura asked.

“Do you make buildings that look like vaginas?”

The men smiled and Laura looked at the blanket, creased and flecked with dirt. She looked up.

“No,” she said. “I don’t.”

The woman said nothing more. After a moment, the men walked away.

The next day, Jordan and Laura went to a bar to meet their friends. Laura told Eleanor what happened at the park and Eleanor burst out laughing.

“That’s horrible,” Eleanor said. “But it’s so funny.” She called out to their friend Sasha, who was standing nearby. “Sasha. Come here. You have to hear this.”

Sasha walked over to the group. She was holding a beer.

“Tell it,” Eleanor said to Laura. “Tell it again.”

————
Erica Peplin is a writer from Detroit. She has contributed to Autostraddle, McSweeney’s and The Brooklyn Rail. She lives in Berlin.

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