#39: My Girlfriend, Alicia

"Ohmygod, Percy. You know what would be awesome?"

Alicia's eyes are wide, her face lit up with excitement. From here, almost anything could follow. It could be fifty burpees, it could be sex, it could be sushi, it could be a Yuri on Ice marathon, it could be a nap.

"We should warm up the potstickers to eat after my stream!"

With Krysta in California and Whitley at her volleyball tournament, we have the house to ourselves for the first time since before Whitley moved in. Not that it matters to Alicia, who'd turned the basement into her cosplay studio, home gym, and general lair. If I wanted privacy, I could set up camp in the living room or upstairs in Alicia's room, but working in the same room with someone so focused inspires me to do my best work.

I finished setting up when my phone chimed. Krysta had posted to Instagram. The notification linked to a selfie of my ex-girlfriend, filming subject and coding tutor, posing in a fancy cocktail dress with a neckline plunging to her waist. Despite minimal effort on her part, she looked stunning. I had been beyond lucky to have dated her for the half-year I did and was blessed now to be with Alicia, who has no issue with me continuing to be Krysta's cameraman.

"She could have at least done her hair," said Alicia, who sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor arranging her cosplay supplies. Her stream would go live in ten minutes at 8:00 PM, a convenient time for both her West and East Coast fans. She wore a tank top, jogging shorts and a headset with mic. Sitting beside her is a can of Japan-imported Coca-Cola Plus—a treat she reserves specifically for her streams.

Once a month, Alicia and three other high-profile cosplayers stream a four-way cosplay construction session live on cam for an audience of hundreds—and occasionally thousands. All four are preparing for Coastside Comic Con, a late-fall con, considered either the last of this season or first of the next. It had gathered steam over in the last few years, owed partly to Alicia's influence and promotion. She still annually serves on the planning committee, hosts the cosplay contest, and leads at least one panel.

I shift to the far end of the couch so as not to photobomb Alicia's hands-free selfie. She then turns to me, adjusts her headphones, and flashes me a toothy grin as she prepares to escape into her world. She cranks the StarDriver opening theme as she logs in.


I met Alicia about a week after she moved in with Krysta. She had dropped out of NU midway through fall of her sophomore year to meet the schedule demands of her burgeoning professional cosplay career and needed somewhere with enough available space to accommodate her hobby. Julie Ravner, who had served as Alicia's photographer on several occasions introduced her to Krysta, who had an empty basement, an extra bedroom, and an unwieldy mortgage.

While I continued to serve as Krysta's videographer, we had for all intents and purposes broken up after a half-year of casual dating. We had plenty in common (and still do), but Krysta's brain is not wired for relationships. The last traces of our partnership had transitioned into intermittent weekend sex until Krysta moved it out of her schedule to fit in a second weekly webcam show.

Krysta later told me she found Alicia "obnoxious and maddeningly tactless" from the moment she met her. The two, however, found common ground in their drive, natural talent, and near-obsessive adherence to routine. Within five minutes they'd agreed to become roommates, and by the end of the hour, they'd swapped live stream schedules. Alicia was completely moved in two days later, and within a week they had their first blow-up over Alicia using the sink in Krysta's newly remodeled bathroom to dye fabric.

Krysta informing me her new web model roommate needed a videographer made it clear: we were officially through. While Krysta was away for a photo shoot with Julie, I headed over to meet Alicia and film what I'd assumed would be ten minutes or so of test footage. Krysta gave me little warning beyond "she looks like she works out a lot," and the sight of Alicia took my breath away as she bounded into the room.

"You are adorable!" Alicia cried. "I could make you into a spot on Shinichi Kudo!"

"Hi, I'm Percy."

"So, I need you to film me working out. No nudity, but I'll be in gym shorts and a sports bra with lots of lifting, flexing, and sweating."

"Yeah, Krysta gave me the heads up. I've got lights with me, so I'll need a little time for setup."

"Krysta told me you still film her videos, and you used to have sex a lot afterward."

"Um...not a lot, but—"

"We can start with recording. Then, if you're up for it, we can see what happens afterward." Alicia pointed to the basement steps, extending an arm that seemed carved from marble. "Shall we get started?"

"Queen Alici is in the building!!!!"

A split screen of several cosplayers celebrated Alicia's entrance. The chat window lit up with salutations. Alicia blew a kiss to her audience and exchanged pleasantries with her colleagues. Their sessions followed a pretty standard schedule. Each of the four shared what they would be working on during the session, with Alicia showing several pieces of leather she would be distressing by hand. I suspected she'd set aside this task for fanservice, giving the viewers a chance to watch her muscles in action.

Rather than the cartoonish authenticity some of her peers aimed for, Alicia produced cosplay adaptations to fit her unconventional frame. She imbued her cosplay with realism, fine-tuning the small details, and employing hours of testing to ensure everything fit comfortably.

With stream in full swing and Alicia absorbed in her work, I dove into editing volleyball footage. While uninterested in sports, I knew enough to see the NU team, particularly the tall redhead, performed decidedly better the second day than the first. After their second victory, the camera even managed to catch Whitley on the sideline. My experience with Whitley up to this point consisted of seeing her eat, sleep, and smoke weed. Watching her so passionately engaged was a nice change.

Alicia continued to chatter in the background.

"...I'm SUPER excited because this year I'll be bringing a couple extra-special guests of my own. Trust me, they're going to be a hit with the fans!"

That caught my attention. There was no way she could have said what I thought she said.

"...one of them knows, but the other doesn't yet. I'm pretty sure I can convince her though."

I waited quietly for more details, but Alicia only laughed in response to something another cosplayer said. She then returned to twisting her leather pieces. I replaced my headphones, intending to return to work, though the sight of her arms in motion remained a distraction.

I had never in my life been as transfixed by anything as I was with Alicia's physique. Alicia pressed, pulled, and curled weights I couldn't dream of budging as if they were extensions of her body. Her muscle erupted from places I had no idea it existed. Her eyes, while focused on her body, would briefly yet knowingly glance up at the camera. Her face glowed with glee, captured beautifully in 1080p.

"You know what's even better than being this strong?" She asked.

Being this humble? I wondered to myself. "No."

"When people look at me and like what they see."

I swallowed. "Oh?"

"Yeah," Alicia said, grinning as she pumped her flexed arm. I circled behind her, focusing on how the thin bands of her sports bra disappeared in the deep creases between her shoulders and deltoids. She turned her head to the side, winking over her shoulder. "Impressed?" She said


Alicia reached up her beautifully sculpted arms and, in one swift motion, peeled off her tank top. Clad in only her sports bra and skin-tight workout shorts, her body was symphonic in its definition. She beamed with pride as I took in her appearance. On the verge of laughing, she turned away again from me, flexing her delts, shoulders, and glutes that glistened in the light.

"So, are you and Krysta still an item?"

"I...no. I mean, I'm still her videographer if, that's what you're—"

"Krysta says you're good. That you know what you're doing."

Alicia's personality was every bit as overt and in-your-face as her musculature. It was both captivating and jarring, particularly after a year of working with Krysta, who strategically tailored her personality to her audience, and was forthcoming only when it was absolutely necessary. I would have to tread lightly.

"Uh...she gives pretty clear direction."

Alicia dropped her tone into a teasing whisper. "I can do that too. I know exactly what I want."

I chuckled, more nervously than I'd intended. We shot another fifteen minutes of footage before transitioning to the upstairs to the webcam room for what would become a new routine for us both.

Alicia keeps a prioritized to-do list on a magnet board next to her desk. At any time, if she's not exercising, cooking, or sleeping, she is completing an item on the list. Her life revolves around lists. She can give you a hierarchical order of everything in her life, from her favorite family members to her favorite foods, to her favorite cosplays.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Alicia pulling off her headphones as she sips the last of her soda. "Sorry y'all, gotta take my one-minute burpee break. Feel free to join!" Alicia pounds out twenty-five perfect burpees, before sitting back on her knees and belching loud enough to leave my ears ringing. Her face is mildly flushed, her breathing only slightly elevated. She puts on her headphones and adjusts the mic.

"Thank you! Thank you! Yeah, that was the cola," she says, shaking the empty can. "How'd you all do?"

I shook my head, perplexed yet again at how it was that the only two women I'd ever slept with were a mature, smart, sexy, Vietnamese pinup model, and an energetic bodybuilding, midwest, blonde knockout. Krysta and I had plenty in common, yet we broke for reasons of practicality. Alicia and I have almost nothing in common and have stayed together out of practicality.

My head returning from the clouds, I notice Alicia setting her headphones down. She pauses her stream and saunters towards me. I figure a question is coming, but it's not the one I expect, as she frowns and points at my computer screen.

"What's going on?" she says.

"Footage from the volleyball tournament. It's not due 'til Tuesday, but I figure I'll get it done before—"

"No! I mean, what happened?"

I looked down to find both teams milling around the court in clumps. Coach Richter struggled to restrain a tall redheaded player, who angrily shouted at the opposing team through the net. Whitley, always the easiest to spot, was nowhere to be seen. I scroll back a few minutes, and Alicia and I both watch the remaining few minutes of game footage, our mouths dropping open in shock.

"Welp," Alicia finally said, breaking the silence. "That's not good."


"Krysta's going to have a thing or two to say about that..."

I nodded. "Yup." We both kept staring at the screen, as I feel Alicia gently running her fingers up my spine. When she reached the top, she tickled my shoulders, with more force than she probably intended.

"Hey, Percy. I'm done in fifteen. You know what would be awesome?"


"Sure, we could start there." Alicia bites her bottom lip while rocking back and forth. "And maybe later..."

In the spirit of full disclosure: it was pretty awesome.