The Manchester Review
Kamila Rymajdo
American Cigarettes
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On his previous work trip the young man had brought her tulips. ‘Don’t say I never buy you flowers,’ he said as he handed them to her. They were from Amsterdam airport.
       They were having drinks in the young man’s flat. He shared it with his friend, who was shorter than him. The young men stood either side of the cooker, drinking red wine. The girl sat opposite the cooker on an uncomfortable wooden chair.
      ‘I want a mistake-free future,’ the girl thought as the young men talked about the taller one’s trip and the shorter one’s weekend. Both of the young men were envious of the other’s experiences. The girl was bored by the conversation. She’d heard about the taller one’s adventures earlier on in the day, before they’d had sex in bright daylight. The girl had taken down her curtains to wash them. And the shorter one’s weekend was no different from any other. ‘I want a mistake-free future,’ she thought to herself again. She filled up her glass with the remaining wine and lowered her eyelids a little.
       She was drunk by the time they finished talking. The phrase stayed in her mind as she brushed her teeth, went to bed, had more sex with the taller one, and when she woke up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. She thought about it in the morning as she drank tea before going to work.
       ‘A mistake-free future,’ she wrote down on a piece of paper towards the end of her shift. In the evening she went to a bar to meet the young men for post-work drinks. They sat side by side drinking pints of beer.
       ‘Alright,’ she said.
       ‘Alright,’ they said, first the taller one, then the shorter. The girl gave the taller one a kiss and went to the bar.
       ‘Is it still happy hour?’ she said to the barman.
       ‘You’ve got ten minutes.’
       'I’ll have a bottle of wine then.’
       ‘How many glasses?’
       ‘All that to yourself?’ said the taller of the young men as she sat down on a chair opposite them.
       ‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘Why not?’
       ‘Why not eh,’ said the shorter one. He raised his pint to clink her wine glass and she raised it up, even though it didn’t have any wine in it yet.
      ‘A mistake-free future,’ she said.
       ‘Yes, a brighter future,’ said the shorter of the young men, and the taller one said it also and clinked her empty glass too, then added ‘good call'.
       Happy hour passed and the threesome were drunk. They didn’t want to go home, so they went to a student club night.