An unexpected encounter

He was stretched out on the bench in the cafe window, like a prize. Computer balanced on his leg, crooked against the windowpane, right hand scrolling. He ticked all the boxes on Nadia’s list: dark hair, scruff along the jaw, a sweater-vest, glasses. The academic type. As she watched, pretending to hitch her bike to the post across the road, he looked up, into the cafe, and smiled. A girl — pretty, blond, carrying books — appeared and pecked him on the cheek. She sat down beside him, and he moved to accommodate her, turning his back to the window.

Nadia sighed and straightened, ran a hand over her closely-cropped dark hair and set her mouth obstinately. What’s new? she thought. She picked at her neon nail polish as she rounded the corner onto the busy Main street. It had been nearly a year since she’d found out about Tyler and– She shook her head, unwilling to finish the thought. Then she fished her iPod out of her bag (bright pink and purple, cloth, a reusable shopping bag) and popped in the ear-buds, turning up the volume to drown out her thoughts.

The lyrics to Cake’s “Love You Madly” blasted into her ears.
I don’t want to hold back
I don’t want to slip down
I don’t want to think back to the one thing that I know I should have done.

She clicked the “next” button. “You Can Make Him Like You” by The Hold Steady.


“I Want You” by Third Eye Blind.


“I Can’t Help it (if I’m Still in Love with You)” by the Breeders.

NEXT. NEXT. NEXT. Nadia clicked madly at her iPod. Is every song EVER about unrequited love?

“Good Time” by Brazilian Girls. Acceptable. She took a deep breath. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she jumped, careening into a passerby. “Sorry,” she muttered, not looking up. She pulled the phone from her pocket: Jodie. “Jesus, God, Jodie, what the fuck do you want?”

“Some way to greet your bestie, Dee.” Nadia rolled her eyes and waited for Jodie to continue. “Anyway, whatever’s got your panties in a wad, forget about it cuz guess what this girl just scored?”

Nadia stopped walking. “No fucking way. You got tickets?” Another pedestrian dodged her at the last second, muttering under his breath. She glared at him as he passed, heart fluttering in her chest.

“Well, no, not exactly…” Jodie tapered off.

Nadia frowned, “What, then?” She flung out an arm, heedless of the people walking by.

“I got a date.” Jodie said.

“You got a date,” Nadia repeated.

“To the show.”

“You got a date to the show.”

“Uh huh. Exciting, right?”

“Sure,” Nadia looked at her chipped nails, glanced in the direction of the cafe. “Jo, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Wait, wait!” Jodie yelled into the phone.

Nadia ignored her, hit “end”, and stuffed the phone back into her pocket. Setting her jaw, she started walking.

Two minutes later, her phone buzzed again. She sighed and pulled it from her pocket.

A text message from Jodie: I got you a date, too, doofus! And he wears sweater-vests 😉