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Michael was having a normal day.

He had to work at his retail job for eight hours, his girlfriend was at the house texting him constantly about how useless he is, and his band was without a concert for the next few weeks.

…it sounds when written down worse than he believes it to be…

He enjoys his life. This is where he is happy, and feels accomplished to have two albums out in his early twenties. The slacker life suits 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 gets to pretend that people know more about music than him, meanwhile he is 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 raises a hand to wave coyly, as if she knows who he is, but is unsure if she is right. Knowing his name was the easy part for most.

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 is there for a social bumper.

“Oi! Mike! How ya doin’ ya ol’ so and so!” Clamours Jake. Mike feels better.

“Jake! What’s up?” He pretends that he missed the sirens 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 can. “Do we know each other?” His tone is serious, despite the smile he keeps on his face to erase suspicion.

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

Mary is making sure a pile of shirts are in order.

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

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

Mary gestures that she will when she is done cleaning the stack of shirts she was fiddling with. Michael looks 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 launches into conversation quickly. She is working, after all. “How are you, Mike? It’s good to see ya again!”

Michael hates that he does not remember her. She has the biggest blue eyes, a small scar under her right eye that just adds to the mystery of her aura. Her voice is high and small to match her stature. Her hair is long and blonde. Her perfume is 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 carries on the conversation, ignoring the fact that Michael has not said two words. She’s fucking good at her job! Mike thinks 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 asks while starting on another stack of shirts.

“YES!” Michael bursts 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.”

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

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

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

On that note, a customer walks up and whisks Mary away.

She turns to look at Michael one last time. “If it means anything, I really like your band. Different for around here. It’s a nice change of pace.”

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

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