Probably thinking the same thing (Tyler Dempsey)

Nationally-ranked in cross-country. One of the few non-Whites in any National Park. Leg muscles the envy of gazelles. Tall, broad-shouldered. Each body-part clearly separate from what it’s attached to. 

It’s very exciting.   

There’s a joke: Alaskan women are the toughest young men I’ve met. 

She fixes gross pasta. I crack a beer.

Reading a note, “You have the handwriting of a dad in Levi’s next to a grill.” 



Off-guard she isn’t steering the convo toward L and I. 

Struggle to know what to say. But, keep my resolve to not dangle bait. 

An hour passes. I’m really confused.

“Assume you know, L broke up with me?”

“My god, had no idea. I wouldn’t have come over if I knew.”

I don’t know what that means.

App that tells you what to do.

“Figured, that’s why you drove over.”

“No one was really around. Besides, I thought you and I were kinda friends.” 

“Me, too. But, I know you love the dirt. Figured that’s why.”

“You aren’t wrong. But, I really didn’t know. How ya holdin up?”

“Okay—mean, the emotional-brunt came in October when she broke up with me the first time. Didn’t reconnect all winter. Just having sporadic, meaningless-sex. Then that stopped.”

“She kind of mentioned. But, didn’t go into it. She give a reason?”

“Said she’d been pretending to be someone else. Since we got together, I guess? Trying to be who she thought I wanted? I said, oh, I had no idea. That’s a terrible way to live. Don’t blame you for wanting out. Was surprised it’d taken a year-and-a-half.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Super weird, we broke up—then, she emailed saying she’d overreacted and wanted to get back together. Ignored me from October through the first of February. Then, takes me to Talkeetna for my birthday, gets this nice AirBnB. Calls my best friend to drive from Anchorage to meet for a ski. Like, the most thoughtful present any partner’d given.”

Her tongue tcks. “Crazy. She asked if she should take you out. On your birthday. Said, she was thinking about it but wasn’t sure if it was the right thing.”

Tips the IPA.

“After we were back at the BnB, we smoked and were eating cupcakes. Bout to go to bed. She goes, know what Katie said?—we were playing fuck, kill, marry, and she goes, I’d fuck you and Dempsey. Then, we slept on opposite ends of the bed.”

 “Uhhh, hah. Yeah, I said that. What’d you think?”

“After I allowed every guy’s fantasy to pass through my head. Like, yeah. That sounds fun. Was like, what’s the point? Telling me this now? Mean, we hadn’t slept together over a month at this point. You and Abby were separated, maybe a month? Her tone was suggestive. I said, sounds like Katie was drunk.”

“I was.” 

“Also, said I was pretty sure you hated men.”

Winces, “Seriously? Damn. No, I like guys. Not many. I like you.”

“Thought you were strictly-women. We knew each other five years before you opened up. And, figured, because you liked L, and had to put up with me being around. Watched you shit on tons of dudes.”

Emptying wine.

“Most y’all are shit. I’m attracted to guys. Sexually—but, not in a relationship-way. Guess I’m technically bisexual? Probably would’ve ended up sleeping with Tuck if he hadn’t moved to Grand Canyon.”

“He’d die if he knew.”

“Probably move back.”

Laughing, aware my receding gums are perhaps spewing blood through the grooves of my teeth. 

“You do the whole, sleep with guys in high school? Cause you were from the South? And, it was just easier than trying to deal with the bigotry? Then, come out in college, when it was easier?”

“Sort of. Knew I was gay. Yeah, didn’t feel like dealing with it. And, there weren’t women around that were interesting either. Same in college. Abby was my first.” Blows smoke, “To be honest, I’ve never slept with a guy.”


Her eyes soften. “Seriously.”

“You’re saying—you could’ve slept with anyone? For, how old are you, 28 years? And, you didn’t?” Dropping dishes in the sink, “Cause, why?”

“Was turned off by the culture where I lived. Seemed gross. Only gross people were doing it. Went to a college in the Midwest. Not much different than high school. I wasn’t always hot. Kinda dumpy as a kid. Developed late. Didn’t have,” points at boobs, “or get my period till I was 17.”

“Hard believing, mean, weirdly understand the small-town culture stuff. It’s exactly why I didn’t have sex till 23. Never craved, or even wanted acceptance from those pricks. Was hard. But, at a point, I almost liked I hadn’t. I don’t believe you weren’t hot.”

“Wasn’t. Just a super-awkward-looking Asian. Oh, shit.” Checks wrist.


“Gotta work in the morning.”

“What time is it?”

“After two.”

Seven-and-a-half hours had flown.

One-percent of the human population lives at latitudes this close to a Pole. In the midnight-dusk, I watch her walking to her Jeep. She looks back. Probably, we’re thinking the same thing.

What’d he do to deserve this?


Tyler Dempsey‘s stories have appeared in places. Gotta couple books. Yadda yadda. He’s a fiction reader at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine.  


image: “does not bode well:” Andrea Damic lives in Sydney, Australia.  Words in @50wordstories@FridayFlashFict@paragraphplanet@100WordsFTW and Microfiction Monday Magazine.Photographs in @rejectionlit@FusionArtPS and several others pending print publication in @DoorIsAJarMag. Follow Andrea on TW @DamicAndrea. One day she hopes to finish and publish her novel.