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short indigo love story

Right outside a public library, evening. Nancy standing by the entrance. Michael rushed out and bumped into Nancy.

“Oh.”

“Shit—”

“I’m—”

“No, that was my bad.”

Michael started to leave.

“Wait—”

“Huh?”

”I mean—”

“There something wrong?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

“It’s just—”

“It’s just what?”

“I—um, I don’t know how to, put it—”

“I really have to get—”

“You look—do I know you from somewhere?”

“Somewhere?”

“From—”

“I guess I hope so, if you’ve seen me on—”

“North High.”

“What?”

“We went to high school together.”

“North—”

“Unless I’m thinking of—never mind.”

“No it’s—”

“Sorry.”

“No. You’re right, I did go to—did we know each other?”

“You were one of the popular kids. I was—not so much.”

“Doesn’t mean I still couldn’t know you. What’s your name?”

“It’s Nancy.”

“I’m Mi—”

“Mike.”

“—chael.”

“Sorry.”

“No, that’s right, yeah, you remembered. So Nancy, Nancy—”

“You don’t have to—”

“No bells ringing on Nancy.”

“No surprise.”

“Now it’s my turn to be sorry. Again.”

“No it’s—I wasn’t expecting—”

“But this is great anyway. What are you up to?”

“I’m, uh, waiting for a friend. Picked up a book while in the meantime—while I was waiting.”

“What—”

“What about—”

“Oh.”

“No you—”

“You go first, Nancy.”

“Sorr—I mean, what are you doing here?”

“Same I guess, killing time. There’s some music—I was going to ask what book.”

“Book?”

“What book you borrowed.”

“I—it’s nothing—just some, um, some stuff on psychoanalysis.”

“Oh, cool.”

“Unless you consider the impossibility of fulfilling one’s desire inscribed in the very nature of language then—I don’t know. Maybe?”

“Maybe. Maybe that—wait a sec.”

“Huh?”

“Mrs. Danvers, AP chemistry. You sat in the very front.”

“Yes.”

“You were one of the smart—you were in the book club weren’t you?”

“No.”

“No?”

“I wasn’t.”

“Could have sworn—but yeah. Yeah, I do remember you.”

“It was the bakery club.”

“The bakery club.”

“Yes.”

“Well, anyway—”

“I—”

“What?”

“Nothing, um—”

“I should—I guess I should say you look great.”

“I look—”

“How long’s it been since that class?”

“It was—”

“Junior year, wasn’t it?”

“Sophomore year.”

“Was it?”

“It was. I remember.”

“Okay, okay. I only bring it up because I ran into John the other—you happen to—”

“I do.”

“You do?”

“You two hung out a lot back then.”

“You remember that?”

“I was quiet, then.”

“Right—”

“I just—I liked watching people—I mean like people watching—that sounds—I didn’t mean to—sorry.”

“No, no, I know what you mean. But yeah, I ran into John and—I’m sure you remember—he used to be super skinny, and now he’s, you know, super not.”

“Really?”

“Oh yeah. And it happens way more than you’d think, I mean just look around right?”

“I wouldn’t say—”

“So you should consider yourself lucky if you’re able to keep appearances after high school, if you know what I mean.”

“I didn’t think I ever kept anything.”

“How do you figure?”

“I started, um, working out after graduation.”

“Huh, I guess I can see that.”

“My college had a gym.”

“Yeah, definitely. Well, I should—”

“You—”

“Yeah?”

“No—”

“No, you go ahead.”

“I was just—wanted to ask—you said you were looking at some music.”

“Did I?”

“I—”

“I did, right, no, I heard this spot had a good collection of local stuff so I wanted to take a look while I had some free time.”

“Do you like music?”

“Like?”

“Oh—that’s a dumb—”

“I love music, I’m in a band, actually.”

“Really?”

“Lead singer, it’s great.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah. Oh shit, speaking of—I really need to get going. It was really good seeing you again.”

Michael turned to leave.

“Mike—”

“Huh—”

“Did you, uh—”

“What’s up?”

“I wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure.”

Nancy closed her eyes.

“Could I ask you out sometime?”

*

Michael turned to leave.

“Mike—”

“Huh—”

“Did you, uh—”

“What’s up?”

“I wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure.”

Nancy closed her eyes.

“Fuck me.”

*

Michael turned to leave.

“Mike—”

“Huh—”

“Did you, uh—”

“What’s up?”

“I wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure.”

Nancy closed her eyes.

“No, there isn’t. There—there’s just something I always wanted to tell you, so it’s crazy that you’re here all a sudden. You probably don’t remember this but there was, like, this fair that the school held—there were games and food and booths and everything. A lot of the clubs had their own booths. The art club did cartoons and caricatures, the jazz club had a little concert, you get the picture. And the bakery club had a booth selling bread and pastries but it was really just me. For whatever reason the other members couldn’t make it so I had to handle everything—well not everything but I had to try and sell what we had, and I wasn’t doing a very good job. There were people everywhere but I couldn’t get myself to raise my voice and get their attention. They just passed. And I just stood there unable to do or say anything and I hated it and then there you are and you start asking me about what we have. Your other friends were there—you’re the only one who cares, and you ask for a strawberry tart—I remember that—and I give it to you and you eat it in like one bite and then you ask if you could buy three more. It surprised me how much you liked them. I baked those myself. I don’t—I don’t know what I’m trying to say here—but I never forgot that. I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to say, uh, thank you.”

“Oh, wow. I don’t know what to say, myself.”

“You—you could say if you wanted those tarts again, you could come over and I’ll bake some for you tonight.”

“I—whoa. I would love—”

*

“I wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure.”

Nancy closed her eyes and then opened them again.

“I—I uh—would you have time for some coffee?”

“Coffee?”

“There’s a pastry place just nearby, it’s—”

“Sorry.”

“Huh?”

“I got a gig tonight, meeting my band for rehearsal.”

“Oh.”

“But you could come and watch if you’d like.”

“Really?”

“Of course, it’s no—oh, shit.”

“What?”

“You said you were waiting for a friend, weren’t you?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“I know. What’s your number?”

They exchanged phone numbers.

“Cool. I’ll give you a call next time I’m in town.”

“Next time?”

“Yeah. Touring is great but it gets crazy. Got shows booked for months and then we’ll be in Europe for a time.”

“Europe?”

“But definitely next time—whenever that’ll be—I’ll invite you to a show, meet the rest of—you remember Beth?”

“She was in—”

“She was in our chemistry class, too. Sat right next to me. Plays bass in the band. And she’s my fiancée too but that’s neither here nor there.”

“Oh.”

“But it was good seeing you, Nancy. Now I can’t say I’m all that sorry bumping into you.”

“Me, um—”

“And it was a good thing you said something too or I would have just kept right on going.”

“I—yeah. Me too.”

“Well, see you around.”

“See you.”

Michael left.

Right outside a public library, evening. Nancy still standing by the entrance.

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