about the author

AnnElise Hatjakes holds an MFA degree in fiction and an MA degree in writing from the University of Nevada, Reno. She lives with her husband in Reno where she teaches English at a school for gifted students. In her free time, she can be found riding her Honda Nighthawk through the strange streets of Reno. One of her stories was shortlisted for the Neil Shepard Prize in Fiction. She also has stories appearing or forthcoming in Drunk Monkey and Juked Online, and she is currently completing revisions on her novel.

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AnnElise Hatjakes

Maisy has a problem that a two-finger pour of vodka won’t fix, but that doesn’t stop her from drinking it down and signaling for the bartender to bring her another one. Her date from last night, Todd, won’t stop texting her, and her phone’s vibrations are making it travel toward her current date as if to antagonize him. According to his profile, he doesn’t like girls who are tethered to their phones and doesn’t watch TV; she suspects the latter is a lie signposting toward some priggish, tech-free Promised Land.

Here is the predicament: If she grabs her phone to change the sound settings, he’ll think she can’t go five minutes without looking at her screen, and if she puts the phone in her purse, it’ll continue to make a rattling buzz when it vibrates against her car keys.

“As I was saying, I’m the kind of guy who will just say fuck it and buy a one-way plane ticket to Belize,” her date, John, says.

“That’s cool. I’ve always felt like—”

“It’s hard to be that spontaneous?” he incorrectly predicts the rest of her sentence.

“That we should be able to have those kinds of experiences in our twenties, but I have a soul-crushing amount of student loan debt still.”

“College is a sham.” The phone vibrates again, and Maisy can’t take it. She looks at her screen—several texts from Todd that begin as polite invitations to go on a date, move on to apologies for his awkwardness the night before, and conclude with accusations that she’s ghosting him like every other okay-looking bitch on the app. She turns her phone off completely to John’s approval.

“I’m glad I went even if I have to pay it back.” The highlight reel of Maisy’s college career flashes before her eyes to convince her of the proclamation.

“I make forty-five bucks an hour as a welder, and the whole program was only a few thousand and took eighteen months. What do you make?”

Maisy grimaces. She makes less than half of that as a music teacher.

“Sorry, I know that’s rude to talk about. But I don’t get why everyone thinks a college degree matters. It’s all a social con stuck.”

This is why people go to college, to know that the phrase is actually social construct and that it doesn’t make sense in this context, but it’s not worth correcting him. He’s nice enough and pretty hot after she mentally plucks his eyebrows, envisions a five o’clock shadow, and stretches his height up three inches.

“I guess that’s true,” she says. The bartender is somewhere in the back. What’s taking him so long? The drinks in front of the only other two people at the bar are still half-full.

The exit sign calls to Maisy. She had to meet with her principal today to discuss budget cuts that will likely eliminate her job in the fall. Her roommate’s also leaving to move in with her boyfriend before her lease is up, so Maisy has to figure out a replacement. She strategizes about the best way to end the date. She wants to slip into some sweatpants and put on a sheet mask, but those future comforts feel impossibly far away.

“I’m getting pretty tired,” she says.

“Want me to order you a coffee or a Red Bull?” He calls for the bartender before she answers.

“I don’t do that well with caffeine. Thanks, though.”

“You said you’re a craft coffee fanatic in your profile.”


“I gave it up recently.” How could she make such a careless error? She was now guaranteed a slew of hostile messages in the app and via text. Maybe she could block him before he sent them.

“Oh, I see.” The excitement in his voice when he was talking about Belize is now gone as he rolls what she imagines is dead skin between his fingers.

“I’ll pick up the tab for the drinks, though.” She pulls out her credit card, which he shoos away. Based on some quick math, it’d only take him a half-hour of welding to pay for their drinks, so she doesn’t attempt another offer.

She thanks him and gives him an awkward side hug, which he resists. As she leaves, she turns her phone back on and sees that Todd has apologized for what he said before. The text is riddled with grammatical mistakes, and she guesses that he was out drinking with his friends, who indirectly got him worked up about her after they got worked up about their own dates or girlfriends or wives until all of their grievances merged together into a storm of criticism and complaint, lightning cracks of insult loosed from between clenched jaws.

She drafts a text to Todd that says, Fuck off.

Erases it.

Types, Don’t text me again.

Erases it.

Types, No big deal. I was actually on another date.

Erases it.

It’s raining hard outside, which thankfully muffles the sound of a catcall from a man with a braided goatee and a voice like gravel. She flips him off only after she knows he won’t see and walks back to her car, the metal rod of her key strategically positioned between her knuckles in case she needs to use it.

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