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Places I Hang Out

In Transit

"I was afraid you wouldn't come," she said.

The man didn't answer but sat in the chair across from her, at the outdoor table she had already propped with a matchbook to prevent it from tottering.

They watched the sparrows hop among the sunlit cobblestones, flit between the legs of the tourists. Light and shade.

"So…" she said. Her voice sounded distant even to her. Less a whisper than the passage of a ghost. "You came."

He smiled with little warmth, leaned back, closed his eyes. "Indeed."

"I'm glad." She fumbled in her purse for cigarettes, found them, lit one.

"You smoke." Too incurious to be a question; even his indifference stung.

She waved a dismissive hand that only made her feel matronly. Or worse, like a girl feigning womanhood. 

Christ, how does he do it? Make me feel this way?

She smoked her cigarette greedily, lustily even, like someone trying to ignore the firing squad as it gathered in the yard.

The man sighed, wafted away the grey swirl between them, looked at her for the first time.

"So why? Why are we here?" he asked.

"Very philosophical of you."


"Because we didn't finish the conversation."

"That was a long time ago. I don't even remember the first part of—"

"Oh, I think you do."

Something transited his face, something elusive and brief, a rogue orbit. As if a decision had happened behind some locked door. A bad one. A cataract. A shadow on an X-ray. 

"Go ahead, then. Talk."

"How does someone pick up a sentence they started writing ten years ago?"

"Look. I don't have time for this. What is it? Money? I can—"

She gasped. "Fuck you."

"Yeah. Allegedly you already did."

He stood. Looked at her briefly. Mumbled something.

"What? What did you say?"

"I said, I never knew what you wanted from me." And he walked away, into the milling sightseers.

She watched the people through a film of tears and then the tiny sparrows that hopped like popcorn on a griddle. 

"Just your apology, Daddy. That's all," she whispered.

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