Stable Matching

The aguardiente sloshed in our glasses, the sickly sweet aroma of the liquor permeating the air around us. I could smell the next day’s headache already, or is it that all I can remember today is yesterday’s?

The young Ecuadorean man whose name I can’t remember either gave me a soft smile as he poured another glass, setting the empty bottle down with a soft clink. His companion eased back into his chair like he owned the place (he did). I hadn’t noticed him get up. The bottle of aguardiente was full again.

Issy and Jas exchanged knowing glances and giggled. Emily rolled her eyes. Sam raised his glass to his lips and sighed, his normally energetic movement tempered by spirits. He had turned unusually quiet. I wondered if we were going to play a round of Contract Whist, which is usually what we did when the five of us drank together, but I wasn’t sure if I could explain all the rules to our two hosts. They didn’t seem particularly interested in talking to me, or Sam for that matter anyway. I don’t think I had said a word in hours.

Jas was laughing at one of their jokes, but I can’t say I remember hearing what it was.

Hadn’t there been a third - I think his name was Pina? And where had Helena gone? Heaven knew why these young men had invited us, a clique of visiting eighteen and nineteen year old voluntourists from the US and UK to drink with them in their vacation home on the outskirts of Cuenca. A fourth arrived suddenly, armed with more aguardiente. He left soon after Emily told him she was gay, but he left the liquor behind.

Emily, Sam and I sat alone together for what seemed then like days, though I know now it was only a couple of hours. A full bottle of aguardiente still sat on the table. Was there anything else to do?


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