I used to do them as a kidMy grandparents didn’t let me watch TV so I did, like, a million crosswords.
Don’t cheat, don’t cheat, don’t cheat.
This girl thinks she’s somethingActing like she doesn’t already know the answer.
This woman is insufferable
Let’s keep finding our way back to each otherSorry I meant to send that to my sister.
The macThe mac was meant for your sister, right? Not the finding each other.
defeating capitalism, ha, ha!Obviously!
Sleepless in Seattle
allegedlyperhapsdoes that make sense?I’m not saying it’s NazisBut it might be Let’s call it what it is: terrorismwife
Michelle liked the post shortly after it was shared; she didn’t recognize Megan as the poster. Neither woman had a profile picture on the site—too cheugy—but Michelle was a regular user to get story ideas. She disliked field journalism and preferred to do aggregated work, the more dull finance the better, but she maintained a small, happy confidence that she could go viral if she came across just the right story. And what was better than Nazis harassing a small business run by queer women? She saw words like wife and life’s passion and no corporate funds and thought, Perfect. After only skimming the post, she sent “Meggie” a message asking if she’d be willing to talk on the record. Within minutes, the two agreed to meet up at the Starbucks by the market—yes, the original one; it wasn’t too crowded on weekdays—and both women masturbated in bed and then slept as eager as babes.
The women did not run into one another at Starbucks but at the site of the remaining untouched game. This hunt covered the murals of Capitol Hill: the rainbow sidewalks, the enormous café and chairs above Oddfellows, the singers singing outside the club next to the Korean fried-chicken place all three women loved. Megan watched Michelle remove the decoy outlet from the back of a fire hydrant and wondered what might happen if she rolled in front of an oncoming motorcycle. She wouldn’t die, she didn’t think, but people would scream. Someone, she thought, would come to her side. She hoped it would be her wife, but her feet stayed where she kept them, and as though in another world, she heard Kayla ask Michelle if she was playing a solo round.
You’re messing with the clue, Kayla said when Michelle replied she didn’t know what she meant. You’re going to put that in the wrong place.
And who are you, Michelle said, recognizing Megan but worried about outing her. Was the whole place queer? She couldn’t remember. Maybe this woman thinks Megan is still with just men, she thought. She squinted—sisters, maybe.
Don’t worry about who I am, Kayla said. If you’re participating in a game, my wife can confirm your name on the list.
Wife, Michelle said, looking at Megan, who was watching a squaw jay chirp for its mate from a low-hanging wire.
Yeah, Kayla said. Wife. Bother you much?
I’m a journalist, Michelle said slowly. I messaged Meggie to speak to her about what’s been happening with the scavenger hunts. I was just checking it out for myself. She was getting that high she got, the adrenaline from the lying, the rush of getting caught and tipping her way outside of consequences. She liked guilt and liked making herself feel it, always later, always alone.
Let’s retrace the steps, Megan said. That’s what you’ll need to do, isn’t it? As an investigator.
I thought this spot hadn’t been hit yet, Kayla said, and Megan felt flattered at her wife’s unexpected conscientiousness. Kayla had heard all about the attacks on Megan’s business since she’d mentioned a journalist wanting to talk to her, but she didn’t expect her partner to actually remember specifics.
We’ll go all over the city, Megan said. Until we’re satisfied.
The Space Needle, Kayla said. And that glass museum, with the sculptures.
Right, Megan said. She was pretty sure she hadn’t mentioned the sculptures.
Michelle said Sure, and all three women were nervous about the same thing for different reasons. The nervousness translated to a queer happiness—the women, at one point or another, each individually felt they were on an excellent second or third date. While at Pike Place, Megan and Michelle didn’t mention their previous time there together and instead journeyed into the basement to lament the closure of an independent bookstore. They ate small hot donuts, and Kayla made an amicable trade for Michelle’s classic in favor of her sour cream. Michelle felt attended to; no one huffed when she had to use the restroom one time more than everyone else, and no one got fussy when she asked for a photo against exposed brick. They were dutiful in their checks, each taking time to peer beneath bricks for a hate symbol or Google graffiti tags—just in case, they each said, eyes on their phone screens, just in case. They didn’t understand yet what they didn’t know.
It was Megan who ended it, if you can believe it. The Space Needle had four clues: one in the gift shop, one beneath the ice cream machine outside of the gift shop, one on the level with a glass floor, and one at the top viewing center. The women checked on all four and, of course, found the clues and, of course, found no evidence. Megan said the Needle had 24-7 security cameras, and Michelle finished her thought, saying she had her press badge on her; they’d probably let her look when she explained the story, if they asked questions at all. Kayla affirmed the existence of such cameras, as she’d checked into the possibility of being recorded the first time she rearranged the game pieces in the structure (notes behind a mirror in the women’s bathroom were switched to beneath the sink in the one for families, a keychain meant to unlock a box in the gift shop moved from above the ice cream machine to below it).
At the security desk, the women watched themselves mess around. The women weren’t surprised at each other’s behavior—if they could cause such a small chaos, after all, why wouldn’t the bodies beside them be just as capable? Megan messed with the game first, then Michelle, then Kayla, an order that surprised none of them. The shock came from their shared experience, the rich acceptance of seeing women act in just the same way—each looked at the ceiling camera during the act, chin upward, smiling not with her mouth but with her eyes.
The security guard asked if they were finding the solution to the problem, if they were getting what they were looking for, and the women touched one another’s wrists together, all three heroes of their own destruction in a neat line, and nodded. Megan said they were good, thanks, just thinking about the next level, and the women each took a hand of hers.
When they left, still holding hands, the security guard shook the dregs of her coffee, considered what she owed a company that paid her only thirteen dollars an hour, and got herself to the gift shop. After all, she had a game to play.
Marissa Higgins is a lesbian writer. Her fiction has appeared in The Florida Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, X-Ray Literature, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction has appeared in the Best American Food Writing 2018, Glamour, NPR, Slate, and others. Her debut novel, The Wives, is coming out with Catapult in 2024.