فصل 02کتاب: اعتراف / فصل 3
- زمان مطالعه 33 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
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متن انگلیسی فصل
She’s here. Right here, standing in my studio, staring at my art. I never thought I’d see her again. I was so convinced that the likelihood of our paths ever crossing was minimal, I can’t even remember the last time I thought about her.
But here she is, standing right in front of me. I want to ask her if she remembers me, but I know she doesn’t. How could she when we never even exchanged words?
I remember her, though. I remember the sound of her laughter, her voice, her hair, even though her hair used to be a lot shorter. And even though I felt like I knew her back then, I never really got a good look at her face. Now that I’m seeing her up close, I have to force myself not to stare too hard. Not because of her unassuming beauty, but because it’s exactly how I imagined she would look up close. I tried to paint her once, but I couldn’t remember enough about her to finish it. I have a feeling I may attempt it again after tonight. And I already know I’ll call the painting More Than One.
She moves her attention to another painting and I look away before she catches me staring at her. I don’t want it to appear too obvious that I’m trying to figure out which colors to blend together to create her unique shade of skin tone, or whether I would paint her with her hair up or down.
There are so many things I should be doing right now other than staring at her. What should I be doing? Showering. Changing. Preparing for all the people who are about to show up for the next two hours.
“I need to take a quick shower,” I say.
She turns around, fast, as if I startled her.
“Feel free to look around. I’ll go over everything else when I’m finished. I won’t take long.”
She nods and smiles and for the first time I think, Hannah who?
Hannah, the last girl I hired to help me. Hannah, the girl who couldn’t handle being second in my life. Hannah, the girl who broke up with me last week.
I hope Auburn isn’t like Hannah.
There were so many things I didn’t like about her, and that isn’t how it should be. Hannah disappointed me when she spoke, which is why we spent a lot of our time together not speaking. And she always, always made it a point to tell me that her name, when spelled backward, was still Hannah.
“A palindrome,” I said the first time she told me. She looked at me, perplexed, and that’s when I knew I could never love her. What a waste of a palindrome she was, that Hannah.
But I can already tell that Auburn isn’t like Hannah. I can see the layers of depth in her eyes. I can see the way my art moves her by the way she focuses on it, ignoring everything else around her. I hope she isn’t like Hannah at all. She already looks better in Hannah’s clothes than Hannah did.
Did. Another palindrome.
I walk into the bathroom and look at her clothes, and I want to walk them back downstairs to her. I want to tell her never mind, that I want her to wear her own clothes tonight, not Hannah’s clothes. I want her to be herself, to be comfortable, but my customers are wealthy and elite and they expect black skirts and white shirts. Not blue jeans and this pink (is it pink or red?) top that makes me think of Mrs. Dennis, my high school art teacher.
Mrs. Dennis loved art. Mrs. Dennis also loved artists. And one day, after seeing how incredibly talented with a brush she thought I was, Mrs. Dennis loved me. Her shirt was pink or red, or maybe both, that day, and that’s what I remember as I look down at Auburn’s shirt, because Mrs. Dennis who?
She was not a palindrome, but her name spelled backwards was still very fitting, because Dennis = Sinned, and that’s precisely what we did.
We sinned for an entire hour. She more so than me.
And don’t think that hasn’t been a confession turned into a painting. It was one of the first I ever sold. I named it She Sinned with Me. Hallelujah.
But alas, I don’t want to think about high school or Mrs. Dennis or Palindrome Hannah because they are the past and this is the present, and Auburn is . . . somehow both. She would be shocked if she knew how much of her past has affected my present, which is why I won’t be sharing the truth with her. Some secrets should never turn into confessions. I know that better than anyone.
I’m not sure what to do with the fact that she just showed up at my doorstep, wide-eyed and quiet, because I don’t know what to believe anymore. Half an hour ago I believed in coincidences and happenstance. Now? The idea that her being here is simply a coincidence is laughable.
When I make it back downstairs, she’s standing statue-still, staring up at the painting I call You Don’t Exist, God. And If You Do, You Should Be Ashamed.
I wasn’t the one who named it, of course. I’m never the one who names the paintings. They are all titled by the anonymous confessions that inspire them. I don’t know why, but this confession inspired me to paint my mother. Not as I remember her, but how I imagined she looked when she was my age. And the confession didn’t remind me of her because of her religious views. The words just reminded me of how I felt in the months following her death.
I’m not sure if Auburn believes in God, but something about this painting got to her. A tear rolls down her cheek and slides slowly toward her jaw.
She hears me, or maybe she sees me stand beside her, because she brushes her cheek with the back of her hand and takes a breath. She seems embarrassed to have connected with this piece. Or maybe she’s just embarrassed that I saw her connect with it.
Instead of asking her what she thinks of the painting, or why she’s crying, I just stare at the painting with her. I’ve had this one for over a year and just yesterday decided to put it in today’s showing. I don’t usually keep them for this long, but for reasons I don’t understand, this one was harder to give up than the rest. They’re all hard to give up, but some more so than others.
Maybe I’m afraid that once they leave my hands, the paintings will be misunderstood. Unappreciated.
“That was a fast shower,” she says.
She’s trying to change the subject, even though we weren’t speaking out loud. We both know that even though we’ve been quiet, the subject for the last few minutes has been her tears and what prompted them and why do you love this piece so much, Auburn?
“I take fast showers,” I say, and realize my response is unimpressive and why am I even trying to be impressive? I turn and face her and she does the same, but not before looking down at her feet first, because she’s still embarrassed that I saw her connect with my art. I love that she looked at her feet first, because I love that she’s embarrassed. In order to be embarrassed, a person has to care about the opinions of others first.
That means she cares about my opinion, even if only a fraction. And I like that, because I obviously care about her opinion of me, or I wouldn’t be secretly hoping she doesn’t do or say anything that reminds me of Palindrome Hannah.
She spins around, slowly, and I try to think of something more impressive to say to her. It’s not enough time, though, because her eyes are back on mine and it looks like she’s hoping I’m the confident one and will be the first to speak.
I’ll speak first, although I don’t think confidence has anything to do with it.
I look down at my wrist to check the time—I’m not even wearing a watch—and I quickly scratch at a nonexistent itch so that I don’t look like I’m not confident. “We open in fifteen minutes, so I should explain how things work.”
She exhales, seeming more relieved and relaxed than she did before that sentence left my mouth. “Sounds good,” she says.
I walk to You Don’t Exist, God and I point to the confession taped to the wall. “The confessions are also the titles of the pieces. The prices are written on the back. All you do is ring up the purchase, have them fill out an information card for delivery of the painting, and attach the confession to the delivery card so I’ll know where to send it.”
She nods and stares at the confession. She wants to see it, so I take it off the wall and hand it to her. I watch as she reads the confession again before flipping the card over.
“Do you think people ever buy their own confessions?”
I know they do. I’ve had people admit to me that they’re the ones who wrote the confession. “Yes, but I prefer not to know.”
She looks at me like I’m insane, but also with fascination, so I accept it.
“Why wouldn’t you want to know?” she asks.
I shrug and her eyes drop to my shoulder and maybe linger on my neck. It makes me wonder what she’s thinking when she looks at me like this.
“You know when you hear a band on the radio and you have this vision of them in your head?” I ask her. “But then you see a picture or a video of them and it’s nothing like you assumed? Not necessarily better or worse than you imagined, just different?”
She nods in understanding.
“That’s what it’s like when I’ve finished a painting and someone tells me their confession inspired it. When I’m painting, I create a story in my head of what inspired the confession and who it came from. But when I find out that the image I had while painting doesn’t fit the actual image standing in front of me, it somehow invalidates the art for me.”
She smiles and looks at her feet again. “There’s a song called ‘Hold On’ by the band Alabama Shakes,” she says, explaining the reason behind her flushed cheeks. “I listened to that song for more than a month before I saw the video and realized the singer was a woman. Talk about a mind-fuck.”
I laugh. She understands exactly what I’m saying, and I can’t stop smiling because I know that band, and I find it hard to believe anyone would think the singer was a man. “She says her own name in the song, doesn’t she?”
She shrugs and now I’m staring at her shoulder. “I thought he was referring to someone else,” she says, still calling the singer a he even though she knows it’s a she now.
Her eyes flutter away, and she walks around me toward the counter. She’s still holding the confession in her hand, and I let her hold it. “Have you ever thought of allowing people to purchase anonymously?”
I walk to the opposite side of the counter and I lean forward, closer to her. “Can’t say that I have.”
She runs her fingers over the counter, the calculator, the information cards, my business cards. She picks one up. She flips it over. “You should put confessions on the backs of these.”
As soon as those words leave her mouth, her lips press into a tight line. She thinks I’m insulted by her suggestions, but I’m not.
“How would it benefit me if the purchases were anonymous?”
“Well,” she says, treading carefully, “if I were one of the people who wrote one of these”—she holds up the confession in her hand—“I would be too embarrassed to buy it. I’d be afraid you would know it was me who wrote it.”
“I think it’s rare that people who write the confession actually come to a showing.”
She hands me the confession, finally, and then crosses her arms over the counter. “Even if I didn’t write the confession, I’d be too embarrassed to buy the painting for fear that you would assume I wrote it.”
She makes a good point.
“I think the confessions add an element of realness to your paintings that can’t be found in other art. If a person walks into a gallery and sees a painting they connect with, they might buy it. But if a person walks into your gallery and sees a painting or a confession they connect with, they might not want to connect with it. But they do. And they’re embarrassed that they connect with a painting about a mother admitting she might not love her own child. And if they hand the confession card to whoever is going to ring up their purchase, they’re essentially saying to that person, ‘I connected with this horrible admission of guilt.’??”
I might be in awe of her, and I try not to look at her with so much obvious fascination. I straighten up but can’t shake the sudden urge to hibernate inside her head. Ferment in her thoughts. “You make a good argument.”
She smiles at me. “Who’s arguing?”
Not us. Definitely not us.
“So let’s do it, then,” I say to her. “We’ll place a number below every painting and people can bring you the number rather than the confession card. It’ll give them a sense of anonymity.”
I notice every tiny detail of her reaction as I walk around the counter toward her. She grows an inch taller and sucks in a small breath. I reach around her and pick up a piece of paper, and then reach across her for the scissors. I don’t make eye contact with her when I do these things so close to her, but she’s staring at me, almost as if she’s willing me to.
I look around the room and begin counting the paintings when she interrupts and says, “There are twenty-two.” She almost seems embarrassed that she knew how many paintings there were, because she glances away and clears her throat. “I counted them earlier . . . while you were in the shower.” She takes the scissors from my hands and begins cutting the paper. “Do you have a black marker?”
I retrieve one and set it down on the counter. “Why do you think I need confessions on my business cards?”
She continues to meticulously cut the squares while she answers me. “The confessions are fascinating. It sets your studio apart from all the rest. If you have confessions on your business cards, it’ll pique interest.”
She’s right again. I can’t believe I haven’t thought of that yet. She must be a business major. “What do you do for a living, Auburn?”
“I cut hair at a salon a few blocks away.” Her answer lacks pride and it makes me sad for her.
“You should be a business major.”
She doesn’t respond, and I’m afraid I may have just insulted her profession. “Not that cutting hair is something you shouldn’t be proud of,” I say. “I just think you have a brain for business.” I pick up the black marker and begin writing numbers on the squares, one to twenty-two, because that’s how many paintings she said are hanging and I believe her enough not to recount them.
“How often are you open?” She completely ignores my insult/compliment regarding her profession.
“First Thursday of every month.”
She looks at me, perplexed. “Only once a month?”
I nod. “I told you it’s not really an art gallery. I don’t show other artists, and I’m rarely open. It’s just something I started doing a few years back and it took off, especially after I got a front-page feature last year in the Dallas Morning News. I do well enough the one night I’m open to make a living.”
“Good for you,” she says, genuinely impressed. I’ve never really tried to be impressive before, but she makes me a little bit proud of myself.
“Do you always have a set number of paintings available?”
I love that she’s so interested.
“No. One time, about three months ago, I opened with only one painting.”
She turns and faces me. “Why only one?”
I shrug, playing it off. “I wasn’t very inspired to paint that month.”
This isn’t entirely the truth. It was when I first began seeing Palindrome Hannah, and most of my time was spent inside of her that month, attempting to focus on her body and ignore the fact that I didn’t connect as much with her mind. Auburn doesn’t need to know any of that though.
“What was the confession?”
I look at her questioningly, because I’m not sure what she’s talking about.
“The one painting you did that month,” she clarifies. “What was the confession that inspired it?”
I think back to that month and back to the only confession I seemed to want to paint. Even though it wasn’t my confession, it somehow feels like it was now that she’s asking me to tell her what my only inspiration was for that entire month.
“The painting was called When I’m with You, I Think of All the Great Things I Could Be If I Were Without You.”
She keeps her focus on me and her eyebrows are furrowed as if she’s trying to get to know my story through this confession.
Her expression relaxes and keeps falling until she looks disturbed. “That’s really sad,” she says.
She glances away, either to hide that this confession bothered her or to hide that she’s still trying to decipher me through the confession. She glances at some of the paintings closest to us so that she’s not looking directly at me anymore. We’re playing a game of hide-and-seek and the paintings are home base, apparently.
“You must have been extremely inspired this month, because twenty-two is a big number. That’s almost a painting a day.”
I want to say, “Just wait until next month,” but I don’t.
“Some of these are old paintings. They weren’t all made this month.” I reach around her again, for the tape this time, but it’s different. It’s different because I accidentally touch her arm with my hand, and I haven’t actually touched her until now. But we definitely just made contact, and she’s absolutely real, and I hold on extra tight to the tape because I want more of whatever that was she just unintentionally delivered.
I want to say, “Did you feel that, too?” but I don’t have to because I can see the chills run up her arm. I want to put down the tape and touch one of those tiny bumps I just created on her skin.
She clears her throat and takes a quick step back into the expansiveness of the room and away from the closeness of us.
I breathe, relieved by the space she just put between us. She seems uncomfortable, and honestly, I was becoming uncomfortable, because I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that she’s actually here.
If I had to guess, I would say that she’s an introvert. Someone who isn’t used to being around other people, much less people who are complete strangers to her. She seems a lot like me. A loner, a thinker, an artist with her life.
And it appears as though she’s afraid I’ll alter her canvas if she allows me too close.
She doesn’t need to worry. The feeling is mutual.
We spend the next fifteen minutes hanging the numbers below each painting. I watch as she writes down the name of each confession on a piece of paper and correlates it with its number. She acts like she’s done this a million times. I think she might be one of those people who are good at everything they do. She has a talent for life.
“Do people always show up to these things?” she asks as we walk back to the counter. I love the fact that she has no idea about my studio or my art.
“Come here.” I walk toward the front door, smiling at her innocence and curiosity. It gives me a nostalgic feeling reminiscent of the first night I opened over three years ago. She brings back a little of that excitement, and I wish it could always be like this.
When we reach the front door, I pull away one of the confessions so she can take a peek outside. I watch her eyes grow wide as she takes in the line of people that I know are standing at the door. It didn’t always used to be like this. Since the front-page feature last year, word of mouth has increased the amount of traffic I get, and I’ve been very lucky.
“Exclusivity,” she whispers, taking a step back.
I attach the confession back to the window. “What do you mean?”
“That’s why you do so well. Because you restrict the amount of days you’re open and you can only make so many paintings in a month. It makes your art worth more to people.”
“Are you saying I don’t do well because of my talent?” I smile when I say this so she knows I’m only teasing.
She shoves my shoulder playfully. “You know what I mean.”
I want her to shove my shoulder again, because I loved the way she smiled when she did it, but instead she turns and faces the open floor of the studio. She draws in a slow breath. It makes me wonder if seeing all the people outside has made her nervous.
She nods and forces a smile. “Ready.”
I open the doors and the people begin pouring in. There’s a big crowd tonight and for the first several minutes, I worry that this will intimidate her. But regardless of how quiet and a little bit shy she seemed when she first showed up here, she’s the exact opposite now. She’s flourishing, as if she’s somehow in her element, when this probably isn’t a situation she’s ever been in before.
I wouldn’t know that from watching her, though.
For the first half hour, she mingles with the guests and discusses the art and some of the confessions. I recognize a few faces, but most of them are people I don’t know. She acts like she knows all of them. She eventually walks back to the counter when she sees someone pull the number five down. Number five correlates to the painting titled I went to China for two weeks without telling anyone. When I returned, no one noticed I’d been gone.
She smiles at me from across the room as she’s ringing up her first transaction. I continue to work the crowd, mingling, all the while watching her out of the corner of my eye. Tonight, everyone’s focus is on my art, but my focus is on her. She’s the most interesting piece in this entire room.
“Will your father be here tonight, Owen?”
I look away from her long enough to answer Judge Corley’s question with a shake of my head. “He couldn’t make it tonight,” I lie.
If I were a priority in his life, he would have made it.
“That’s a shame,” Judge Corley says. “I’m having my office redecorated, and he suggested I stop by to check out your work.”
Judge Corley is a man with a height of five feet six but an ego twice as tall. My father is a lawyer and spends a lot of time in the courthouse downtown, where Judge Corley’s office is. I know this because my father isn’t a fan of Judge Corley’s, and despite Judge Corley’s show of interest, I’m pretty sure he’s not a fan of my father’s.
“Surface friends” is what I call it. When your friendship is merely a façade and you’re enemies on the inside. My father has a lot of surface friends. I think it’s a side effect of being a lawyer.
I don’t have any. I don’t want any.
“You have exceptional talent, although I’m not sure it’s quite my taste,” Judge Corley says, moving around me to view another painting.
An hour quickly passes. She’s been busy most of the time, and even when she isn’t, she finds something to do. She doesn’t just sit behind the counter and look bored like Palindrome Hannah did. Hannah perfected the art of boredom, filing her nails so much during the two showings she worked for me, I’m surprised she even had nails left by the end of it.
Auburn doesn’t look bored. She looks like she’s having fun. Whenever there isn’t someone at the counter, she’s up and mingling and smiling and laughing at the jokes that I know she thinks are lame.
She sees Judge Corley approach the table with a number. She smiles at him and says something, but he just grunts. When she looks down at the number, I see a frown form on her lips, but she quickly shoves it away with a fake smile. Her eyes briefly meet the painting titled You Don’t Exist, God . . ., and I immediately understand the look on her face. Judge Corley is buying the painting and she knows as well as I do that he doesn’t deserve it. I quickly make my way to the counter.
“There’s been a misunderstanding.”
Judge Corley looks at me, annoyed, and Auburn glances up at me in surprise. I take the number out of her hand. “This painting isn’t for sale.”
Judge Corley huffs and points to the number in my hand. “Well, the number was still on the wall. I thought that meant it was for sale.”
I put the number in my pocket. “It sold before we opened,” I say. “I guess I forgot to take down the number.” I wave toward the painting behind him. One of the few left. “Would something like this work for you?”
Judge Corley rolls his eyes and puts his wallet back in his pocket. “No, it won’t,” he says. “I liked the orange in the other painting. It matches the leather in my office sofa.”
He likes it for the orange. Thank God I saved it from him.
He motions for a woman standing several feet away and he begins walking toward her. “Ruth,” he says, “let’s just stop by the Pottery Barn tomorrow. There’s nothing here I like.”
I watch as they leave, then turn and face Auburn again. She’s grinning. “Couldn’t let him take your baby, could you?”
I let out a breath of relief. “I would have never forgiven myself.”
She glances behind me at someone approaching so I step aside and let her work her magic. Another half hour passes and most of the paintings have been purchased when the last person leaves for the night. I lock the door behind them.
I turn around and she’s still standing behind the counter, organizing the sales. Her smile is huge and she isn’t trying to hide it at all. Whatever stress she walked into this studio with, it’s not plaguing her right now. Right now, she’s happy and it’s intoxicating.
“You sold nineteen!” she says, almost in a squeal. “OMG, Owen. Do you realize how much money you just made? And do you realize I just used your initials in my sentence?”
I laugh because yes, I realize how much money I just made, and yes, I realize she just used my initials in a sentence. But it’s okay, because she was adorable doing it. She also must have a natural ability to conduct business, because I can honestly say I’ve never sold nineteen paintings in one night.
“So?” I ask, hopeful that this won’t be the last time she helps me. “You busy next month?”
She’s already smiling, but my job offer makes her smile even bigger. She shakes her head and looks up at me. “I’m never busy when it comes to a hundred dollars an hour.”
She’s counting the money, separating the bills into piles. She takes two of the one-hundred-dollar bills and holds them up, smiling. “These are mine.” She folds them and tucks them into the front pocket of her (or Palindrome Hannah’s) shirt.
My high from the night begins to fade the moment I realize she’s finished, and I don’t know how to prolong the time between us. I’m not ready for her to leave yet, but she’s tucking the cash away in a drawer and stacking the orders into a pile on the counter.
“It’s after nine,” I say. “You’re probably starving.”
I use this as an opening to see if she wants something to eat, but her eyes immediately grow wide and her smile disappears. “It’s already after nine?” Her voice is full of panic and she quickly turns and sprints for the stairs. She takes them two at a time; I had no idea she was capable of displaying so much urgency.
I expect her to come rushing back down the stairs with the same haste, but she doesn’t, so I make my way toward the stairs. When I reach the top step, I can hear her voice.
“I’m so sorry,” she says. “I know, I know.”
She’s quiet for several seconds, and then she sighs. “Okay. That’s okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
When the call comes to an end, I walk up the stairs, curious what kind of phone call could cause someone to feel so much panic. I see her, sitting quietly at the bar, staring at the phone in her hands. I watch her wipe away the second tear tonight, and I immediately dislike whoever was on the other end of that call. I don’t like the person who made her feel this way, when just a few minutes ago she couldn’t stop smiling.
She lays her phone facedown on the bar when she notices me standing at the top of the stairs. She isn’t sure if I saw that tear just now—I did—so she forces a smile. “Sorry about that,” she says.
She’s really good at hiding her true emotions. So good, it’s scary.
“It’s okay,” I say.
She stands up and glances toward the bathroom. She’s about to suggest that it’s time to change her clothes and go home. I’m scared if she does that, I’ll never see her again.
We have the same middle name. That could be fate, you know.
“I have a tradition,” I tell her. I’m lying, but she seems like the type of girl who wouldn’t want to break a guy’s tradition. “My best friend is the bartender across the street. I always go have a drink with him after my showings are over. I want you to come with me.”
She glances at the bathroom once more. Based on her hesitation, I can only conclude that either she doesn’t frequent bars or she’s just not sure if she wants to go to one with me.
“They also serve food,” I say, attempting to downplay the fact that I just asked her to a bar for a drink. “Appetizers mostly, but they’re pretty good and I’m starving.”
She must be hungry because her eyes light up when I mention appetizers. “Do they have cheese sticks?” she asks.
I’m not sure if they have cheese sticks, but I’ll say anything at this point just to spend a few more minutes with her. “The best in town.”
Again, her expression is hesitant. She glances down at the phone in her hands and then looks back up at me. “I . . .” She bites her bottom lip, embarrassed. “I should probably call my roommate first. Just to let her know where I am. I’m usually home by now.”
She looks down at her phone and dials a number. She waits for the other person to pick up.
“Hey,” she says into the phone. “It’s me.” She smiles at me reassuringly. “I’ll be late tonight, I’m having drinks with someone.” She pauses for a second and then looks up at me with a twisted expression. “Um . . . yeah, I guess. He’s right here.”
She holds the phone out toward me. “She wants to talk to you.”
I step toward her and take the phone.
“What’s your name?” a girl on the other end of the line says.
“Where are you taking my roommate?”
She’s grilling me in a monotone, authoritative voice. “To Harrison’s Bar.”
“What time will she be home?”
“I don’t know. A couple of hours from now, maybe?” I look to Auburn for confirmation, but she just shrugs her shoulders.
“Take care of her,” she says. “I’m giving her a secret phrase to use if she needs to call me for help. And if she doesn’t call me at midnight to let me know she’s home safe, I’m calling the police and reporting her murder.”
“Um . . . okay,” I say with a laugh.
“Let me talk to Auburn again,” she says.
I hand the phone back to Auburn, a little more nervous than before. I can tell by the confused expression on her face that she’s hearing about the secret-phrase rule for the first time. I’m guessing either she and this roommate haven’t been living together for very long, or Auburn never goes out.
“What?!” Auburn says into the phone. “What kind of secret phrase is ‘pencil dick’?”
She slaps her hand over her mouth and says, “Sorry,” after accidentally blurting it out. She’s quiet for a bit and then her face contorts into confusion. “Seriously? Why can’t you choose normal words, like raisin or rainbow?” She shakes her head with a quiet laugh. “Okay. I’ll call you at midnight.”
She ends the call and smiles. “Emory. She’s a little strange.”
I nod, agreeing with the strange part. She points to the bathroom. “Can I change first?”
I tell her to go ahead, relieved that she’ll be back in the clothes I found her in. When she disappears into the bathroom, I pull out my phone to text Harrison.
Me: I’m coming for a drink. Do you serve cheese sticks?
Me: Do me a favor. When I order cheese sticks, don’t say you don’t serve them. Just say you ran out.
Harrison: Okay. Random request, but whatever.
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