I stand inside my new home, sifting through the mail, startled by a plain piece of paper with antiquish print
Hello Ms. Malone.
If you want to know who I am,
Leave your heart lit.
The statement confuses me, I place it aside and do the same with the rest of the pile.
Doe is waiting for me in the driveway. I recently named her after a dear friend I haven't seen in what seems a decade. My heart says longer, but my mind knows it's only been a few days.
I make my way to Painful Bliss, the bookstore that cements me to Nerfulk. Morty and Alicia come out to greet me, Alicia a bit round in th face of late.
Morty leans into the car window, "Go home, and stop worrying abou the shop Li and I have it covered." He passes the day's slips through the window and tells me to go home.
"This was a waste of gas," I smile and take the slips, rolling my eyes at him, this isn't the first time he's done this. "Can I can work for once?"
He taps the roof of the car and grins, "Yeah, yeah, tomorrow, just get on home already."
The note resurfaces in my mind as I prepare for bed. As I walk into my bedroom, the candle on my window sill catches my eye. It came in the mail a month ago. No name, no address, nothing. Just a box, didn't even have a stamp.
The candle brings up memories of things Doe used to do, sending a candle and asking me to light it to let him know I missed him. He always made up for his absenses though. I smile, lighting the candle before going to bed.
Over the candle, I notice a car on the street as it slows down in front of the house and zooms away just as quickly. Odd, but I've grown accustomed to odd since Carlin left me at the Hub.
The customers mulling about the shop do little to distract mefrom last night's note. Not knowing who sent it niggles at me. There's a place deep within me that hopes it's from Doe, but I'm not resting on that anymore.
As I think about him, he walks in the store. I blink and rub my eyes, not believing them. And I'm right not to, the man walking up to the counter looks nothing like Doe.
"Hello," he says, presenting me a mega-watt smile, "Do you have the book about killing people with-"
"Disposable utensils? Yeah, I have that. Let me show you where it is." I come from behind the counter and lead him towards the back of the store.
As we near the book's aile, he says, "I uh, read this other book about killing people with innocent objects. Chapter eight was my favorite."
I smile when he says that, Doe said the same thing when we first met. "I had a friend who liked that book, and that chapter."
"Yeah, I had a friend who liked the whole book, and greasy burgers." I look up in time to catch him wink. I dismiss the gesture, confused at it's message.
When I turn back around to hand him the book, I notice that he's holding one of my beloved brassies.
"Hi, Alaska." He smiles again, the way he says my name- it's so familiar. He looks out the window, pointing at Doe, "You made a good choice in choosing that beauty over the van."
It-it can't be! I leans in and whisper to him, "What's your name?"
"Grotto." He grins, looking away.
I leaps at him and wraps my arms around him, mumbling into his neck, "You liar."
He hugs me back, memories flooding back to me. He tightens the embrace, "You don't know how much I misssed you."
He doesn't know how much I missed him either. "This darn bump's getting rounder every day."
He puts me at arms' length, "I wish I could have been there." I sense his lie, put can't place what truth he's hiding.
"You're lying again." I cock my head and give him a good once over, "Why do you look so different?"
He smooths down my hair, "I have a lot to tell you tonight over dinner." I don't even argue, I never did; I just hug him again, happy to have him.
A customer comes over and gives the signal for a question. I tell Doe to wait here while I attend to the customer.
The tables have turned.
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