At a mall, one quiet afternoon, a red coral pendant in the shape of a butterfly caught Emily’s eye. It was in the window of a jewellery shop, the funky artsy kind that had interesting things rather than just engagement rings and watches. Emily went inside and bought it, although the woman in the shop seemed a little surprised she did. Emily ignored the shop assistant and trusted her own taste, and because she liked the pendant so much, she bought a chain, too, and wore it right away.
She kept shopping, but now, she started seeing the same pendant everywhere. It was a little odd, she thought, but she supposed it happened. Other people had probably liked it too, so she decided not to care.
A little later, a woman walked up to Emily in a shop. She touched Emily’s arm and said, “You’re tagged.”
She had a necklace too.
Emily looked at her. “I’m what?”
“You’re tagged. I’m Zoe, by the way. Come on.”
Puzzled, Emily followed Zoe. They went into the dressing rooms, and Zoe knelt down. Then she looked up at Emily, and said, “Are we going to or not?”
Emily didn’t understand. She just stood there, staring. “Do what?”
It was a little odd the way Zoe was kneeling in front of her. Zoe seemed surprised too.
“Go on,” Zoe said, and gestured. It was an odd little gesture, a flip at Emily’s waist. It didn’t mean anything to Emily.
“I…” Emily said.
“So hold it up,” Zoe said. “I need both hands, really, to balance down here.”
“Hold what up?”
“Um, your dress…?”
Emily looked at her, a little stunned.
“Oh shit,” Zoe said. “Oh fuck. You don’t know?”
“I don’t think I do.”
“The necklace?” Zoe said, and suddenly seemed embarrassed. She blushed a little, although she kept kneeling on the floor.
“I just bought it…” Emily said.
“You really don’t know what it means?” Zoe said.
“Um, maybe not? What does it mean?”
“It’s tag? You wear it if you want to play. And if someone tags you, you don’t go with them unless you’re interested.”
Emily thought, but none of that still made just sense. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I still don’t…”
Zoe shifted her knees. She seemed about to stand up. “I’m sorry, this was…”
“No,” Emily said, curious now this had started. “What going on? Please just tell me?”
Zoe bit her lip. “I shouldn’t, I don’t think,” she said. “Not if you don’t already know…”
“Well I’ve got the necklace now…”
Zoe thought. She kept kneeling. She seemed a little less embarrassed.
“Please?” Emily said. “You obviously wanted to do something…”
“I did,” Zoe said.
“Something with me?”
“It’s tag,” Zoe said.
“You keep saying that, but I really don’t understand…”
“Well, I tag you. And I do something for you. Then you have to go and tag someone else, and do something for her…”
“Something?” Emily said.
Zoe looked at Emily. At Emily’s waist. “Something,” she said, and flushed a little again. “Something like…” She touched her tongue to her lips.
“Oh,” Emily said, startled. “Oh right.”
“That kind of something, yeah?”
Emily nodded, understanding now, and then stood there, uncertainly. She didn’t know if Zoe was still offering, or quite what.
Zoe knelt a moment longer, then moved, as if to get up. “Well, I’m really sorry,” she said. “This was all a big mistake…”
“No,” Emily said. “Wait.”
“I mean, if you want to,” Emily said.
“Do you want to?” Emily said.
“Well, I tagged you, didn’t I?”
“So if you want to…” Emily said, and pulled up her dress.
Zoe reached forward. She put her hand on Emily’s leg. She stroked, and slid her fingers towards Emily’s hip. Then she looked up. “You get how it works, right,” she said. “You have to tag someone else after I do you.”
Emily nodded. “I get it.”
“And you will? Someone else?”
“But not you?” Emily said.
“I’d like to do you.”
Zoe smiled, and shook her head. “No, it has to be someone else.”
“Oh,” Emily said, slightly disappointed.
“It makes it fair,” Zoe said. “So people don’t just pair off together.”
“I suppose,” Emily said, not really caring.
“You have to, if I do you.”
Emily nodded. “Okay. I will.”
“But I can give you my number before I go, if you like?”
“You will?” Emily said, pleased.
Zoe nodded. “Sure. So we can meet up.”
Emily looked in her bag, and got out her phone, and held it out to Zoe.
“Impatient?” Zoe said.
Emily shrugged. Zoe took the phone, and put her number in, and then gave it back. Then leaned forward, and kissed Emily’s hip, and then carefully licked Emily out.
Emily came, quite startlingly quickly, given she was standing in a changing room in a mall. She came, then pulled Zoe up and kissed her quite desperately.
“Thank you,” Emily said. “Give me half an hour, then I’ll come find you.”
“Oh,” Zoe said.
“Why, is that too soon? You said we could meet up…”
“Um, no. It’s good…” Zoe stopped. “You really want to so quickly?”
“Of course,” Emily said. “I would right now, but your rules…”
Zoe nodded, smiling.
“So give me half an hour,” Emily said. “And then I’ll meet you, and we can do whatever.”
“Whatever?” Zoe said.
“Pretty much whatever.”
Zoe grinned, and left.
Emily waited a moment, then went back out into the mall, walking past the assistant in the shop without looking at her. She walked around until she saw another coral butterfly necklace, then walked up to that woman.
“I’d like to tag you,” she said, with her hand on her necklace.
The woman smiled. She looked at Emily, then she said, “Okay.”
“Come on then,” Emily said. “Let’s go.”
“Are you in a hurry?” the woman said, smiling.
“Oh god yes.”