Since she’d arrived in America and got divorced, Ilona Siegal had been set up three times. The first man was not an ordinary man but a Ph.D. from Moscow, the friend who’d arranged the date said. When Ilona opened her door, she’d found the Ph.D. standing on her front steps in a pair of paper-sheer yellow jogging shorts. He was thin, in the famished way of grazing animals and endurance athletes, with folds of skin around his kneecaps and wiry rabbit muscles braiding into his inner thighs. Under his arm he held what, in a moment of brief confusion, Ilona took for a wine bottle. But when he stepped inside she saw that it was only a litre of water he’d brought along for himself. Their plan had been to take a walk around a nearby park and then go out to lunch. But the Ph.D. had already been to the park. It wasn’t anything special, he said. He’d just gone jogging there. He didn’t like to miss his jogs, and since he’d driven an hour and a half out of his way to meet her he’d got in a run first. Ilona poured him a glass of grapefruit juice and listened to him talk about his work at Bell Labs. He reclined in his chair, his knees apart, unaware that one of his testicles was inching out of the inner lining of his shorts. Ilona stared at his face, trying not to look down.
“Companion.” — Sana Krasikov, The New Yorker, Pen/O. Henry Prize 2007