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If Only

She opened up a book, thumbed through it, and put it back on the shelf. She moved with such grace, such confidence, as I watched her out of the corner of my eye. I wanted to muster up the courage to go talk to her, but I just stood there, petrified. She had a giant Starbucks coffee in one hand and a book bag casually thrown over her other shoulder. I watched her pick up a book of shitty poetry, lick her fingers, and read a few lines from it; her eyes were frantically darting back and forth as she read. Suddenly, she looked up and saw me. I immediately looked away and tried to act casual, but she was walking right at me. My heart started to race. I looked over my shoulder to see if there was anything or anyone she could be walking towards, but there wasn’t; there was just me and a racing heart.

"Hey! Do you know if this is good or not??" She held the book up to my face. When I read the title, I was shocked and had to hide my smile. I didn’t want to give it away yet.

"‘Fighting With God?' Uhhhh, I don’t think I’ve heard of that one before. Might be good," I said, as I shrugged my shoulders.

"Well I don’t want to waste my time and money if it stinks."

"Most poetry stinks," I said.

She glared at me and said, "I like poetry."

I laughed a little too hard at her and she looked even more offended.

"Well then, you might like that one."

"You aren’t that helpful, are you?"

"It’s not like I work here or anything," I said in my defense.

She looked down at the book and thumbed through it again.

"I’m trying to support local authors," she said, without looking up.

"Oh, that explains why you picked him."

"Wait, I thought you said you didn’t know about this book! Did you lie??"

She was getting really close to my face, as she accused me of lying.

I stepped back and said, ‘I’ve just heard that author drinks too much,

smokes too much weed, and sleeps with too many women.’

She raised an eyebrow, clearly more interested in the book now than she was moments ago, and said, "Oh really??"

She opened up the inside of the book and saw the picture of the author. While her eyes were down, I slipped away. I knew where this was headed and I didn’t want to be around when it did. I didn’t get far enough away though, and she shouted at me,

"Hey ass-hat, this is you?!"

I felt like the whole book store froze and all the eyes were on us. One of the employees shushed her and she stuck her tongue out. The older lady gasped and then scoffed at her. I took a step closer to her.

"I’d appreciate it if you didn’t announce that to everyone in here."

"Why?? Are you ashamed of this??’ She held the book up to my face again.

"Yes," I said.

"Well now I have to buy it!" A different lady shushed her this time.

"Oh, fuck off." she said. "You don’t want me to read this??"

"I’d rather you didn’t but on the other hand, I do need the money."

"You’re broke??"

"Only really broke."

She looked me up and down, sizing me up.

"Yeah you do look kinda poor."

"Thanks."

"Well I’ll donate my money to you, since clearly you’re a charity case."

"I won’t take your money,"

"I meant I am going to buy your book, ass-hat."

She started walking towards the register. I didn’t follow her.

She looked back over her shoulder and said, "Are you coming??"

"Uh, where are we going?"

"I want to talk to you."

"You know, I’m kind of busy…"

"No you aren’t," she said.

"Well.. no, not really…"

"You’re coming with me."

She smiled, winked at me and grabbed my hand. Her car was dirty by my standards and that's saying something. She sped to taco bell, ordered a shit ton of food and parked her car.

She grabbed a burrito and took a big bite. With her mouth full, she turned to me and said,

"Okay, now tell me your entire life story."

A piece of lettuce hung from the corner of her bottom lip. I reached out and grabbed it and her cheeks turned extremely pink.

"It was a brisk November day, when my mother gave birth to the miracle you currently see before you-"

"Okay, enough of the bullshit. Fast forward to the juicy stuff." She smiled a big and mischievous smile at me. Now there was sour cream on her face. She was a hot mess, but being there with her, I felt so alive. I smiled back at her and said,

"Okay, it all started when I was 13 and I masturbated into a washcloth."

Mountain Dew Baja Blast came out of her nose.


-C.H.


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