Short Story: My Alter Ego

Vienna: Day 12

The champagne is flat, still sweating condensation in a watery bath leftover from last night. We sip it anyway, though, just to wash out the stale taste of hangover for a moment. A woman is screaming in the room next door. It’s likely that me and Jules are somehow the cause. I look over through squinted eyes to see the half-dressed Austrian man twisted in hotel sheets, still snoring.

With a finger to my lips, I motion Jules to the door and grab one heel at a time from under wet towels on the floor. We must have all jumped into the shower last night fully clothed because everything is dripping and my hair is still damp. Wet footprints in the hotel carpet leading from the bathroom to the bed confirm my hypothesis.

We don’t even put our shoes on as we walk past the concierge laughing. We flick off an old woman sipping tea in a dress suit shaking her head, judging us. It’s easier not to give a shit when Jules and I are together.

Out of a locker at the hostel, we grab our backpacks, which hold our cigarettes and stash of weed. We never actually rent a room. I throw a white tee and black skinny jeans on over my dress and slip it off. You can see my bra. Whatever. I light a cigarette and inhale the morning as we walk.

At a mart on the way to the bike rental, we shove some Ottakringers in our backpacks discreetly in one of the back aisles. We’re not total losers; we pay for two of them on our way out to the bikes. I try to shake my bike free, I’ve paid for it, but it won’t detach from the rack. A guy in a black jacket with a grey hoodie underneath helps me out and we tell him to follow us to Schonbrunn Palace.

Before we feed the ducks, we shotgun a beer with him, Jens is his name. He’s pretty cute so we let him join us today. Maybe he has a friend. I make a daisy chain headband in the grass and we drink and dance around the orangery.

Jens takes us to his apartment and we meet Karl, his roommate. He has some tequila so we take a few shots before we head to Prater Dome for the night. He and Karl pay for us to ride the ferris wheel before the club. Jens’s English is pretty good. He explains that it’s important to see the city from up here before dancing. You have to know you’re really here when you dance.

He pays for our way into the club. The countdown and the light show are about to begin… Drei, Zwei, Eins! The lights and the smoke appear. Jules screams out to me, “We’re alive and everyone else in this fucked up world is dead!” Jens lifts me and spins me around. She’s right. We’re alive, goddamnit, and no one can convince me otherwise.

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