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. 



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