WMSTLitJournal14.pdf


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“What time is dinner?” she asked. He couldn’t tell if she was forgetting on
purpose or if she was just like that. Over the phone these things get lost sometimes
anyway. “Five thirty,” he said. He meant it. “Grandma always eats at five thirty.” “Five
thirty,” she repeated. “I’ll be there on time. No. Early.” Her dad hung up. Talking on
the phone made him tired these days.
She had been coming to this diner for a while now. Long enough that she almost
felt like she belonged. It was loud sometimes, but only in a way that didn’t really
matter. Mostly it was quiet. And the people there seemed as good as any at
pretending not to see what they knew others wanted to hide. The mugs were nice,
speckled and big. They made her feel like she was actually holding on to something.
She liked to do work here. And just to sit too. She had a table that she sat in a lot. It
wasn’t exactly hers, but other than the time a family of five had squeezed in, ignoring
the signs that clearly said ‘booth: four person only’, it was always open. Maybe it didn’t
really matter, all of the tables looked the same anyway: grey granite, grey seats, the
opaque plastic salt and pepper shakers that made it so you never knew if they were full
or empty. She liked the view though from her table. It was right at the traffic light. It
was an uncomfortable light, too long and a busy intersection. She could watch as the
drivers began to get bored and cautiously look around. Sometimes people would make
eye contact. Sometimes she thought that it looked like a real connection. It never
lasted though.
Today there was a man at the table next to hers. He spilled his drink. It took him
ten minutes to clean up. Some of the liquid had dripped onto the floor and pooled
under the table. He didn’t seem to notice, or maybe he just didn’t want to care. She
wished she wasn’t sitting so close to him. She felt embarrassed. In the back of the diner
somewhere a baby was crying.
“Tuesdays,” the man said. She wasn’t sure if he was talking to her and anyway it
hadn’t really been a question. She nodded. The man picked up his newspaper. His
toppled drink had ruined the top few pages and he started reading from the middle
somewhere. “It’s yesterdays paper anyway,” he said. “I never feel like time matters so
much.” She nodded again. This time for just a little longer than she meant to. “I used
to be a writer once. And a postman,” he said. “That’s why time feels like nothing. It
moves too fast. You might not finish everything you meant to, but then there’s every
day, Monday to Friday, then Saturday and Sunday. And they happen over and over. So
it happens too fast, but also it’s too repetitive, you see. It’s confusing.” She coughed.
“Once I retired from the postal service I mailed out copies of my book to everyone who

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