This afternoon on lunch I decided I would sit in a booth and eat a sandwich instead of getting it to go. I would turn my phone off. I would open the book that has been rotting in the bottom of my purse for the better part of thirty days now. As I unwrapped my sandwich (tuna with spicy mustard, extra green peppers and jalapenos) I took a bite and reached into my bag. That endless black hole of a bag I lug around. A purse of this size should only be reserved for international travel or maybe even a Friday night movie so you can sneak in all the Twizzlers you desire.
I pull the post it note off page sixteen and continue reading.
Paris this, decrepit buildings that, sex with ladies, sloshing wine from a bottle that spills onto thighs.
I take a bite of my sandwich.
I continue reading.
By page eighteen, I am completely pulled into Tropic of Cancer. Each word popping off the yellowed pages and onto my chest. They fight and scramble to make it first. I’ve owned this book since I was in high school. I’ve packed it, unpacked it, lugged it around, dusted it on the shelf for years. Earlier in the week, I decided I’d finish it. Honestly, I don’t know why I put it down in the first place.
All those delicious words.
So I read. I eat. I finish and read some more.
The book is propped open by my thumb and ring finger, the others making a nice stand to hold the bind. I am leaned back against the booth, right foot propped up on the empty seat across from me. I am twirling my hair while flipping the pages with my thumb when I am finished with them.
For a moment, I set the book down to take a sip of my tea and push my glasses up over the bump in my nose and closer to my eyes. The booth I am sitting in is tiny and awkwardly placed. While there are two rows of booths for at least four people to sit, I am in this tiny booth for two. My right side faces their front. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a man facing my right side. He has no company and he’s not reading, just eating.
As I pick my book back up, he asks, “Do you always twirl your hair when you read?”
I look over at him.
“I suppose so. Never really paid attention,” I say.
“You also rub your right foot on the top of your left.”
Smiling, I open my book.
Leaving Paris, no no, yes yes. Bed bugs and the Seine. I feel the man watching me. I feel my face redden. I feel that anger scratching at the insides of my ribs. So I finish up, where he so loves Mona’s velvet suit, knowing that her warm body is beneath it and I leave.
Me and my giant bag.
Me and my book.
I open the door with my right foot, book still propped open with my thumb and ring finger. There is no reading in this sun, not in a parking lot, while trying to walk to the car.