Of All the Places

Note: First short story in almost a year – it’s been a while.

I recently moved to a new neighborhood. It’s a nice area with trees, small stores, and a park with a large pond. My place is a cozy one-bedroom apartment on top of a travel agency. I see a poster advertising cheap flights to the Philippines on its window. The poster reminds me of the time I sat next to a Filipino nurse who was flying on Korean Air and making the connection at Seoul to Manila. I had my headphones on, and she still started talking to me. She had a shadow over her upper lip that looked like a mustache.

I moved out the day my girlfriend told me that she’d been seeing someone else. We hadn’t been getting along, especially since I had quit my job and spent most of my time watching television. She went out a lot and never asked me to join her. She sometimes came home smelling of alcohol and red in the face. She told me I was a loser. I called her a bitch.

There is a small grocery store a couple of blocks from my apartment. It’s owned by an old Indian couple. They sell produce that doesn’t always seem fresh, and you can sometimes find cat hairs on the lettuce and spinach if you look close enough. They have a pretty-looking gray cat with bright yellow eyes. I never caught its name. I only stick to buying boxed goods there. The owners are super nice.

Earlier this week, walking into the grocery store, I spotted a familiar face. It was an old girlfriend. Hi Linda, I said. She was surprised to see me and said hello. I told her I had recently moved to the neighborhood. She had been living here for the past couple of years. She’s some sort of marketing consultant and works mostly from home. I told her I was in between jobs. We exchanged contact information and promised each other to have lunch or grab coffee.

Soon after, I thought about Linda from our days together. She’s an attractive girl with a sharp nose and narrow face. I noticed that she had lost some weight, although she was already skinny to begin with. She wears her hair differently now – much shorter and very straight. I wondered if it was one of those Japanese straight perms she had gotten. We dated briefly back when we both lived in the city. I met her through a friend at work, and we hit it off quickly. By the fourth date, we were talking about moving in with each other. We almost did, but things didn’t work out. She then had to travel for work every other week. We saw each other less and less, and I started talking to friends of other friends. We ended things on friendly terms but seldom spoke to each other afterwards.

This afternoon, we met up for coffee. Linda told me more about her work and asked me what I did on my free time. I told her I watched a lot of TV and applied for a few jobs here and there. She asked if she could come check out my place, since she had never seen anyone else’s place in the entire neighborhood. I took her back to my apartment. Although it was only 2 o’clock, I took out two cold beers, and we drank as we watched daytime talk shows. After a couple of bottles, I put my hand on her thigh. She took my hand with both of hers and pulled it towards her chest. We soon got naked in broad daylight.

I’m standing by the kitchen sink pouring myself a glass of water. Linda’s asleep in my bed or maybe she’s not. I wonder if we’ll be getting dinner together, or if she’ll put her clothes on and leave. I recently learned of a decent Chinese takeout in the neighborhood. We could order delivery and watch the evening news. It’s getting darker outside, and through my window, I can see the lights turning on around the neighborhood. I can still make out the big pond far away but the sun’s setting fast and soon, I’ll have to turn my lights on or jump back into bed.

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