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Sophie's Choice

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Sophie Skrimshander woke up in an unfamiliar bed with the worst headache she had ever had in her life. It hurt to open her eyes, despite the fact that curtains were blocking some of the sunlight streaming into the room.

She groaned involuarily and closed her eyes, cuddling up underneath the fleece blanket until she felt a finger tap her on the top of the head. She opened her eyes to a squint and saw two hands the color of weak coffee, one holding a steaming mug of tea, and one holding two orange pills.

"Rise and shine, young Skrimshander," the voice from the body attached to the hands said.

"Owen-O?" Sophie said hoarsely. "I feel awful." Owen smiled his serene smile as Sophie realized where she was--in Henry’s bed, in Henry and Owen’s room. There was no sign of her brother.

"Happens to the best of us," Owen replied. He pushed the tea and the pills towards her. "Unfortunately, Michael and I have a bus to catch in an hour, so we will have to return you to your parental units." Sophie pouted, her eyes clouded with a tint of horror at seeing her parents while experiencing her first hangover.

"Sophie," said a voice groggily from the rug on the floor, "have you ever drank before?"

Sophie looked down at the figure of Mike Schwartz, rousing himself from where he'd fallen asleep.

"Um, no," she admitted, embarrassed by her lack of experience in front of these college kids.

"Well shit. You went from nothing to tequila shots. Great. Outstanding. How many shots did you do?" Sophie cocked her head to the side, trying to remember.

"Six? Eight? Oh, and Pella gave me wine at dinner. She’s really very nice. She just seemed a bit rattled and kept telling me how ‘fucked up men were going to fuck up my life with their fucked-up problems.’"

"Eight shots in less than an hour? Fuck. At least you ate. I don't even know why I asked. It's only going to make me more pissed off." The second part of Sophie’s statement registered with Schwartz’s sleepy brain. “Yeah, that sounds like something Pella would say.”

Sophie looked around after she swallowed the pills with a sip of tea. "Where's Adam?"

"He better be getting ready to get on the goddamn bus or I'm going to break that perfect face of his," Schwartz growled. Sophie winced.

"Please don't--I like his perfect face." Sophie looked conspiratoraly at Owen. "He's a great kisser," she murmured under her breath. Owen smiled again.

"He should be--he's had enough practice," Schwartz grumbled. Owen shot him a look, warning him with his eyes not to hurt Sophie's feelings.

"Are you going to go home and brag to all your high school friends about your college athlete conquest?" Owen asked, and Sophie nodded eagerly.

"Conquest? Sophie, you have to understand--Adam is a shark. And sharks can’t make moral distinctions. Do you know what would have happened to you if Owen and I hadn’t shown up when we did?” Schwartz’s voice had raised exponentially as he was speaking.

“Your shouting is hurting my head.”

“Excuse me, but I think that perhaps we should not victimize Sophie in this situation, or treat her as if she was ignorant,” Owen said sagely. “Sophie was clearly able to communicate effectively to us, so why should she not have been able to express her consent or non-consent? She has agency over her body and can do whatever she would like with it, for her pleasure.”

“What Owen said. I may be from South Dakota, but I’m not an idiot. I’m the one who lied about my age. I told Adam I didn’t want to go back to the hotel to be with my parents, and I agreed to go out with him.”

“But the more you drink, the more your reactions are inhibited. And sometimes, people take advantage of that. Or because you’re not yourself, you do things that you regret. I just want you to be aware and careful. Don’t trust everyone you meet,” Schwartz lectured. If anything had happened to Henry’s sister, he would have never forgiven himself. He probably wouldn’t have forgiven Pella either, and he would have needed to be forcibly restrained from murdering Starblind.

Sophie nodded as she finished her tea, appreciating the fact that Mike cared so much despite the fact that they’d only met once before. She handed the mug back to Owen, smoothed the front of her butter-colored sundress, and whispered to him, “I thought about it. Sleeping with him.”

“It’s okay,” Owen whispered back. “We’ve all thought about it.” He took the cup to the bathroom and came back empty handed. “Did he ask? Or mention it?” he said, still in a whisper.

“Oh, no. But I thought about it anyway.”

“Buddha, we have a bus to catch and a Skrimshander to return,” Mike said, interrupting their clandestine conversation as he handed Sophie her sandals.

“Henry’s already at the bus? Where did he sleep, if I was in his bed?” Sophie asked. She was surprised her parents hadn’t frantically called her. Mike must have told them where she was.

Owen and Mike looked at each other, unsure of what to say, since Henry’s whereabouts were still a mystery.

“He probably stayed with Rick or something. Henry’s a punctual guy--I’m sure he’s been up for hours, probably went for a run, definitely already at the bus.” Mike finally said, more confidently than he felt, to reassure himself and Sophie. He managed to hustle them all out the door and down to the Buick, hoping for different reasons that both Skrimmer and Starblind would be already seated on the bus when they arrived. He was pretty sure Starblind would be there, albeit with a sore abdomen. He wasn’t so sure about Henry, and that’s what he found so unsettling.