Margot, a twenty-year-old college sophomore, is working the concession stand of an “artsy” movie theater when Robert, a man she guesses is in his late twenties, buys Red Vines. Margot flirtatiously teases that no one buys Red Vines, and when Robert returns to the theater a week later, he asks Margot for her number. 

Margot and Robert begin a relationship via texts, weaving her Red Vines joke into a clever, lively conversation. One night while studying, she texts to complain that she’s hungry, and he offers to buy her Red Vines at a nearby convenience store. He buys snacks, kisses her forehead, and sends her back to campus. Margot feels “sparkly.” 

While she’s home over break, Margot and Robert continue to text. If Robert doesn’t text when Margot expects him to, she worries. When Margot gets back to campus, Robert suggests a movie date. From the moment he picks her up in his messy car, Margot is perplexed. Robert seems stiffly polite, and she imagines for a moment that he might harm her but dismisses the thought after he jokes about it. After the movie, she agrees to a drink she doesn’t want because otherwise what she had thought was a promising relationship will end. She wonders why Robert picked a movie about the Holocaust for the date, whether he feels intimidated by her taste in films or is perhaps ashamed to be seen with her. When the bouncer at the bar Robert chooses refuses to let Margot in, Robert insists that Margot told him she is twenty-one, though she did not, and she becomes tearful. He comforts her gently but then kisses her aggressively and clumsily before steering her to a bar where she won’t be carded. After some beer, he seems more like the clever man she’s been texting. Yet Margot feels like she is trying to calm a strong but wary animal.

After drinks, Robert and Margot make out in his car and then go to his house. She fantasizes that one room in the house hides horrific crimes, but the house and its furnishings are normal, though sparse. Robert immediately pulls Margot to a mattress on the bedroom floor, kissing and groping her awkwardly. Robert drinks from a bottle of whiskey, hands it to Margot, and undresses. He forgets to take off his shoes before his pants. Margot watches him bend over to untie his shoes, his heavy stomach hanging over his waist, and she is disgusted and wants to leave. Since she can’t think how to explain herself without sounding “spoiled,” she drinks the whiskey to suppress her feelings.

Sex with Robert repulses Margot. He lies heavily on her, groping and suffocating her. To regain control, she gets on top of him and guides his movements, and for a moment she enjoys herself as he looks at her with desire. When his rough foreplay hurts her, he asks whether she is a virgin. She laughs at the absurd thought but apologizes when she sees that he is upset. Robert becomes more aggressive, pushing Margot into various positions as she regrets her decision to have sex. Afterward, he reveals his worry that Margot would return to her high school boyfriend over the break. Disgusted, Margot imagines laughing about this night with a future boyfriend. She asks Robert’s age, and he hesitantly tells her: thirty-four. She asks him to drive her home.

Margot tries for three days to send a break-up text. Finally, her roommate, Tamara, grabs her phone and sends a blunt, mistyped text. To Margot’s surprise, Robert wishes her well and stops texting. But a month later, she and some friends who know a little about Robert see him at a bar near campus. A student named Albert and other friends surround Margot protectively and leave. Later, Margot and Tamara read Robert’s increasingly demanding texts. He asks why their relationship ended, and when Margot doesn’t reply, his texts become aggressive. He wants to know—is she having sex, right now, with the student he saw her with at the bar? When Margot doesn’t respond, Robert sends the text that ends the story: “Whore.”