Epic {ANEWSIN VOL.10 — Jason Garden}

//Edited by Luka Riot

Michael was having a normal day.

He had to work at his retail job for eight hours: so his break was dealing with his girlfriend at the house, texting him constantly about how useless he was. To top off his fantastic day, his band was without a concert for the next few weeks.

…it sounds, when written down, worse than he believed it to be…

He enjoyed his life. This is where he was happy, and he felt accomplished to have two albums out in his early twenties. The slacker life suited him just fine.

His store was on the main road in the city he resided in. He worked full-time in a music store. He got to pretend that people know more about music than him, meanwhile he was secretly judging them and their choices. It was separate from the local mall, but its proximity makes it easy to run up to the ‘building full of shit-no-one-needs’ for a bad meal of fast food. He made this run often. It was cheap, and only tasted a bit of failure and hate. If he made good time, he could get the fresh fries!

Today was different.

He peered into a store where his friend worked to see if he could bother them. He was confronted by the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Her eyes cut through the miasma of bodies and clothing. He was stunned into shock-induced stillness.

“Hey Mike, good to see you!” The vixen raised a hand to wave coyly, as if she knew who he was, but was unsure if she was right. Knowing his name was the easy part for most. He did not know why.

Michael was tripped up, but was still able to reply with a friendly wave. His eyes darted around the strangely shaped store to see if his friend was there for a social bumper.

“Oi! Mike! How ya doin’ ya ol’ so and so!” clamoured Jake. Mike felt better.

“Jake! What’s up?” He pretended that he missed the siren’s call and headed right for Jake.

“Dude, who the fuck is that and how do we know each other?” Michael keeps his voice as low as he could. “Do we know each other?” His tone was serious, despite the smile he kept on his face to erase suspicion.

“You fool. That’s Mary! You guys hung out at that ska show the other day.” Jake picked up on Michael’s body language and kept smiling as well. His tone, however, conveyed a guise of disbelief and disgust.

Mary was making sure a pile of shirts were in order.

“Dude. She’s fucking beautiful. How the fuck do I not remember her? Was I drunk?” Michael asked, dropping the bravado charade and allowing the frown he was concealing to come through.

Jake looked angry, but kept his calm. “No. You are just an idiot.” He then walked away. “Hey! Mary! Go say hi to Mike!”

Mary gestured that she will when she was done cleaning the stack of shirts she was fiddling with. Michael looked for anything sharp or heavy to throw at Jake. He had hoped to get a little background. He was truly disturbed that he had forgotten someone so beautiful. He was also upset with himself that he was betrothed to another.

It’s not cheating if there is no physical contact. If it’s nothing but a fantasy with a girl you will probably never see again. Nah. She’s probably super stupid or something. Why else would I forget a face like that?

Mary launched into conversation quickly. She was working, after all: customer service made you become social. “How are you, Mike? It’s good to see ya again!”

Michael hated that he did not remember her. She had the biggest blue eyes, and a small scar under her right eye that just added to the mystery of her aura. Her voice was high and small to match her stature. Her hair was long and blonde. Her perfume was strong but not overwhelming.

You’re dating someone, you fool! Just say hello and walk away. Do NOT get her number. Do NOT compliment her. And, for Christ sake, do NOT invite her out for coffee.

Mary carried on the conversation, ignoring the fact that Michael had not said two words. She’s fucking good at her job! Mike thought to himself

“I’m done at 4. Want to go to that cafe that just opened downtown? It’s a bit far from my house, but that coffee chain that’s closer to mine has no idea how to brew coffee.” Mary asked while starting on another stack of shirts.

“YES!” Michael blurted out before even thinking about the ramifications of what was going on. “I have wanted to go to that place for the last little bit, finally I have an excuse!”

(SHOEHORN IN HONESTY, MIKE)

“My girlfriend keeps saying that we’ll go, but we never do. She also says that my band doesn’t suck, but every time we have a show, she has to work. Mysterious, right? Like, if you don’t like it, that’s fine. You need to stab someone before fixing the issue. If you never stab in the first place, it’s just hiding your end. They know. Of course, I’m ‘they’ in this poorly conceived metaphor.”

The words spilled unceremoniously out of Mike’s mouth before he could think about them. He almost wanted to hand Mary a raft to keep afloat of all the ridiculous things he said.

…a good portion of that didn’t even make sense… Mike thought to himself before Mary could reply. He wanted to hide.

“Wow. Bit of a ramble there. You okay?” Mary still had a smile on her face, but it was more the ‘customer service grin’ as opposed to a human emotion at this point.

Michael sighed. “Yeah. I’m fine. Just had a rough couple of days.”

Mary’s posture softened. “Well, let’s do coffee and you can tell me all about it.”

On that note, a customer walked up and whisked Mary away before Michael could reject the offer.

“I’ll be right there, sir! Mike, we’ll talk soon.”

She turns to look at Michael one last time before walking away. “If it means anything, I really like your band. Different for around here. It’s a nice change of pace.” Then, she vanished behind a stack of merchandise.

Fuck you. Thinks Michael. Of course, the world hands me perfection while I have too many demons to deal with as is.

“So Mike, do you work today?” Jake asks, seeming to appear from the racks of clothing. He startled Michael, who had long since assumed that Jake was off doing his job.

“Yeah. I go back in about thirty minutes or so. Just taking a break from my customers to see yours.” Michael tries his best not to look rattled by the sudden human in his vicinity. “Do you care to join me for a smoke outside?”

“HAH!” Jake replies, his volume far too inappropriate for the surroundings. “Dude: last thing I need is another session of you pining over some girl that you have met at the wrong time and everything is out to get you blah blah blah..”

“I can’t decide whether or not I feel hurt by said implication.” Michael bowed his head in despair. Half as a joke, half in earnest. Was he that predictable?

“Thinking about how predictable you are, aren’t you?” Jake pokes the bear. “I also bet that you are going to get a coffee, have a smoke, then head back into work.”

Michael stands still for a moment, face emotionless.

“Jake:” Michael pulls out a cigarette and starts heading for the entrance of the store. “Fuck yourself.”

He pats Jake on the back as he heads past him. He was too focused on the fact that he accidentally got a coffee… not date… later that week. The concept was almost too much to handle, and Michael felt guilty about the whole idea.

You know; Michael thinks to himself. If I actually felt like this was a bad move, I would just leave my girlfriend. He puts the cigarette in his mouth to hold it until he got out of the building.

If I was a good person, I would probably realize that I am shooting myself in the foot. I would probably realize that this is a bad move.

Something different for everyone. Much less depressing and dystopian. This story is dedicated to my best friend, Shannon. Check out my other works. PLEASE consider supporting me on Patreon.

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