Didn’t make it through this round of Three Minute Fiction. Reminding myself not to be a greedy, stuck-up asshole.
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. I didn’t know how long I’d been watching her through the empty space in the stacks, a window dividing the J’s from the K’s. A copy of On the Road was propped up three inches from my face and I wondered if I didn’t like it because I didn’t get it, and if that meant I wasn’t smart enough. I wondered if she read Murakami, if it were possible to be in love with someone you’d never met, and why I didn’t yet own an e-reader.
When I was sure she’d left the library, I sauntered over to where she was and sat in the chair she sat in and picked up the book from the table. It was something about teenage vampires. She’s probably some kind of pop culture professor. I asked myself who I was kidding, and why every woman I fell in love with had terrible taste. I wondered if I was still in love. A couple kissing in the stacks. I wondered what the world was coming to, and why I am so, so, old.
I looked at the vampire book and then at my shoes and then something other than my self-loathing kept my gaze on the floor. It caught the fluorescent light and therefore my attention: a small, gold locket. Who wore a locket nowadays? Women I fell in love with who passed the time in libraries and read books about teenage vampires, I guess. I pocketed the locket and took off out the door after her.
It was raining. Okay, it wasn’t raining. It would have been raining if my life were more dramatic and romantic. I scanned the street. The sun reflected off the neighboring buildings and into my eyes. She moved from the library fairly swiftly, so time was of the essence. I saw a father and baby, a girl who looked lost, and boy who looked like a teenage vampire. A bus tore around the corner, three inches from my nose and then I saw her. She moved quickly, and it was unclear if I could catch up to her. Women always walked faster than I did. I opened my mouth to call out her name when I realized I didn’t know it.
“Vampires!” I shouted, because I couldn’t think of anything else. She didn’t react to my exclamation, but a bike suddenly sideswiped me, and while that wasn’t ideal, it did the trick: she ran across the street because it made a noise and I made a noise and I fell to the ground. Her eyes locked on mine and I was still in love. I jumped to my feet and pulled the locket from my pocket. “Is this yours?” I felt a stinging breeze that suggested a tear in my pants and an open wound.
She looked at the locket and then at me. “Did you drop this at the library?” I asked. She examined it. “People wear these nowadays?” I sighed. “People read books about teenage vampires nowadays?” She told me that they do, and that she was a pop culture professor and that it is her job to keep up with the Joneses. “Do people still say ‘keeping up with the Joneses’?” I asked. I wondered if these were flirtations or if I was an jerk. “You’re a jerk,” she said, and then suggested coffee and I was so, so happy.