Casual, Flux

Casual, Flux

Molly O'Brian


Girl 23 and Boy 41 are sitting in Boy 41’s kitchen. It is 3:24 a.m. Boy 41 swirls warm bourbon in an IKEA drinking glass. They are recapitulating a humorous conversation from a party that occurred earlier tonight.

Two months ago, I made my initial 5-day observation and entered the assessment data into the Orcon database. It is noted on my tablet that Girl 23 and Boy 41 have a D2a-level relationship classification—Friendship, Intersexual, Casual. Even though they have a D2a relationship, they spend 64.2% of their time together talking about sex and dating. Ruxxian analysis shows their sex talk is mostly Class C: hypothetical, with an occasional bent toward flirtation. They are my first assignment after having started at Orcon. I enjoy their conversations and I find Boy 41 moderately attractive, so the observation process has not been unkind to me.

I have made the appropriate environmental adjustments to maintain this D2a relationship. Most of these adjustments have been subtle, code blue or code purple, such as insertion of online ads for friendship-encouraging events on the social networking profiles of Girl 23 and Boy 41. Though once, when they were bickering on the street, I had a pedestrian spit on Boy 41 so that the bickering would cease. And it did. My supervisor approves drastic measures. We are in the business of relationship maintenance. To know all the adjustments is to succeed.

“Shall we go to the roof and smoke a cigarette?” Girl 23 asks Boy 41. They do. Girl 23 follows Boy 41 up to the roof. I note that it’s awfully late for people in a D2a relationship to be a) awake, b) together, c) alone together, and d) engaging in a nocturnal and significant activity like drinking and smoking cigarettes. Statistically, this is unusual. My pupils feel like they are dilating. I am warm in the observatory, surrounded by my screens.

They finish their cigarettes and return to Boy 41’s kitchen.

“Do you want to crash here?” asks Boy 41.

“Sure, that’d be great,” says Girl 23. I track back in my notes and see that on February 13, after a night drinking and dancing at a bar near Boy 41’s apartment, Girl 23 slept on the couch in Boy 41’s basement until her BAC had decreased in percentage by volume from .11 to .04, at which point she rose and took the B46 bus home.

But Girl 23 doesn’t move toward the basement. She cocks her head and says, “Do you wanna spoon in your bed? Ha, ha, ha,” in a tone that can be categorized (via the Starhauser set of vocal tonemotions) as playful/expectant. I wipe my glasses off on my uniform skirt, replace them on my face, and watch as Boy 41 leads Girl 23 into his bedroom. They do not spoon. Still standing, Boy 41 reaches an arm out and leans toward Girl 23 at roughly a 23-degree angle. He kisses her for 4.8 seconds. Girl 23 pulls back. She briefly stops breathing. So do I.


“Do you know what you’re doing?” Girl 23 asks. Boy 41 nods and they kiss again. Before I can consider environmental intervention, I have to get the right data. I track kiss durations on a Graphex tablet. Boy 41 removes his shoes and socks. Girl 23 removes her shirt and brassiere. They continue the extended kiss interaction on Boy 41’s queen-sized bed. I zoom in. Their hipbones are touching. Boy 41 stops the kiss interaction and says, “I’m going to use the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”


I take the opportunity to quickly re-enter Girl 23 and Boy 41’s relationship classification in the computer. It is now F2ab: Intimate, Intersexual, Casual, Flux. Boy 41 is in his bathroom, attempting to urinate with an erection at ¾ mast. I could code red: cause a sudden jam of the lock in the bathroom, make Girl 23’s cell phone ring incessantly, set the apartment on fire. I could try to bring the relationship back to D2a with a flick of my wrist. But no. I exhale. I keep most of my attention on Girl 23. She removes her pants, then lies in the middle of his bed and draws half-dollar-sized circles on the outside of her thigh.


There is no observational classification for the look on her face. Her eyes are wide. Her mouth is open. The muscles in her cheek and jaw tense up slightly, then slacken, then tense again. She looks like the hunter with a gun who sees something he wants—and also the wanted thing, the thing in motion with a laser target on her stomach. In motion, scared into stillness.

Girl 23 does not move a muscle until Boy 41 returns, 84 seconds later—and then Girl 23 moves again.

All rights reserved to Molly O'Brien

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