I didn’t know people still came here, to Pravda. The last time I was here, I was married and drunk on dirty martinis. Except I don’t know if they were martinis at all. I don’t think I’d go to a vodka bar and not drink vodka. Maybe I just ate crumbled egg and red onion; I don’t remember. I do remember the couple sitting within earshot of our table, remember hearing them talk about me as if I weren’t there to hear for myself the things they said. It happens a lot lately, people back talking. "She lost all her magic," one woman said to the other, "when she put her hair back. In that move, she withdrew." I don’t know if he heard them. I never told him about what I’d overheard. Back then I cared a bit more than I do now, but maybe that’s not true. I might have waited a beat, then pulled the band from my hair as if it were the subconscious language of my body. I might have kept it up. I don’t remember. What I do is that I’d made my way up the spiral staircase into the ladies room, returning to our table, my panties moist in my fist. I nearly missed a step, which would have been more of a story, but I didn’t. Instead I pottered back to the table, smiling, and handed them to him beneath our table. He asked for the check. The ladies didn’t see my bare subtext.
Tonight I didn’t bother with underwear. He went down on me at 7:30, just when I should have been arriving at my friend’s flat for twisted cheese straws and a board of bacterial bliss by way of cows, sheep, and goats. Arriving for Rioja and where’d you get that top, lipstick, bracelet. I decided not to put my underwear back on, wiggling as I checked my lipstick in our mirror. This way, I said, you’ll still be with me. But when it came time to hail a cab to Pravda in the cold, that’s all I felt. The perfect destination in the biting cold of winder (it should be called winder instead of winter): an underground Russian vodka bar and the mystery of night.