The Heart of the Labyrinth
Romantic foreigner or cunning linguist? Throw yourself into the labyrinth and find out. But be warned: you might tumble out the other end feeling regretful and used.
We met in a dive bar flooded in soft magenta light. I was taking part in an arts event that night and, suddenly besieged with the realization that I’d be the first reader to grace the stage, I sipped several six-dollar spritzers and chatted to a dancer friend to calm my nerves. One pineapple and rum, one photogenic concoction of pomegranate and vodka, and a free glass of red wine sunk into my veins so that my knees buckled under the weight. I stumbled over to a stray barstool towards the pinball machine and picked it up before noticing that a man nearby was staring at me like I’d stolen his first born.
”Oh,” I said, a bit embarrassed. “I’m sorry, is this yours?”
”No, no,” he replied with a smile. “You’re all good.”
It was then that I noticed a vague accent lingering on his voice and turned to find a boy named Maruch, tall and lean yet a tad pyknic in nature. He had shoulder-length bleached hair with deep brown roots showing and the remnants of a beard. There was something exotic about him, as there always is when a foreign tongue is involved. I pounced on him immediately and said, “You have an accent!”
He said he was a Hopkins student from Germany studying a vague academic field having to do with semiotics or linguistics or literature or all of the above. I don’t recall – I was drunk.
We spoke only briefly before I went back to my friend. As I walked away, I saw a woman with dark roots and dark lipstick greet him. She was, presumably, the reason he was there in the first place. They only stayed at the bar chatting away for ten or so more minutes; when my turn on-stage arrived, they’d gone. This would’ve been the end of it had I not noticed him sneaking glances at me when it was her turn to speak in the short interval between her arrival and their departure. At about 2:00 am, a new name with one mutual friend appeared in the “People You May Know” section of Facebook. I sent a friend request, went to sleep, and the next day I woke up to a new message: