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Slide Into My DM

Updated: Oct 8, 2021




Content: © Rosalie Thorne

Cover Photo: © Z. V. Ezell

Editor – Kathryn Maurer


Slide Into My DM

By Rosalie Thorne


This is my love letter to all of those involved in creating one of my favorite films

You’ve Got Mail. Inspired by the 1998 classic, written by Miklós László (play "Parfumerie"), Nora Ephron (screenplay), Delia Ephron (screenplay), directed by Nora Ephron, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, I hope you enjoy it!


SLIDE INTO MY DM

“There’s the dream of someone else.”

- You’ve Got Mail


Prologue

Megara


Bright light beyond my eyelids, I curl around my pillow away from the window. I’d actually slept well for the first time since the Autumn semester started and I wanted to keep going. It’s Saturday, I don’t have an alarm set… I could sleep all day if I really wanted to. But apparently, I don’t get to.

Frankie is making a ruckus as she gets ready for work. Always so unnecessarily loud… and because we have to share the bathroom sandwiched between our two rooms not only do I get to hear the long shower, hear her blow-dryer her long black hair, but also hear the Insta Stories about her grunge makeup. I just have to keep telling myself She’s your best friend, you love her.

With only a single knock of warning, she opens my door. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it. This is crazy!” I sit up as she comes to sit wide on the edge of my bed, looping an earring in. “There’s an article about some college in Virginia that’s taking away the campus Wi-Fi to help deter students from using their phones in class.”

Squinting, “That’s so sad.”

She points at me, “You know what this is?”

“No?”

“What we’re looking at is the first step to regulating the internet.” As she stands up, I throw the covers off me. “First public schools are controlling who can get on and where. Then they’re going to start blocking certain sites.” She follows me out of the room, rolling up her flannel sleeves, “Soon enough it’ll spread, and we’ll have country-wide filters.”

As she hovers by the bathroom door, I look at her through the mirror. Her beautiful face always looks so tense. “Workplaces have filters, as do schools elementary through senior high. It’s nothing new,” I try.

She scoffs, “Nothing new? Workplaces have the right to have filters because they’re paying their employees. And children’s schools do that, so they don’t look at anything inappropriate.” Her arms cross tight over her shallow chest, “Think about you, almost every college student has a laptop and they’re not only connecting to Blackboard but also to Google Docs. Now, either they can’t, or they have to hotspot of their phone which costs money. And anyway!” she points to me again, “students are paying to go to school. They have a right to internet provided by the school.”

Giving her a look, I start brushing my teeth.

She shrugs and walks away. “Anyway! I have to go to work. See you at Ralph’s?”

“Yep! Burgers?”

The front door opens, “Burgers!” and then it closes.

After brushing my teeth, I lean against the counter and let out a huge exhale. I love her, she’s my best friend, but boy is she a little much. Especially first thing in the morning. Moments pass, the stress slips away, I twist my hair into a bun and pull a scrunchie around it.

I slip into my room to pull my phone off the charger then head into the kitchen for a calm and quiet breakfast. Teapot on the burner, eggs ready to be scrambled, bread toasting… today is totally going to be a #SelfCare Saturday.

Everything laid out on the table just so, I curl my legs under me and lean back. Posting a picture to my personal account, I’m trying to keep myself motivated on this health kick. The last thing I want to do is gain the Freshman Fifteen and too soon it’s going to be too cold to go running in the morning.

Phone back down at the table, I stare at it with a twitchy hand. I really need to eat while everything is hot, but I’m so excited to see if @GoghingGoghingGone has messaged me back. One of the few DM’s I replied to on my aesthetic Insta, we’ve been having a fantastic conversation since the start of the semester.

A good portion of the food gone, I give in. Switching from my personal profile to @TeaDropsOnRoses, I find a new message from him in the primary message column.


Thackery is my cat. He loves being outside in the Autumn just as much as I do. Though, he likes to bring home birds and lizards to feed me, while I much rather order pizza or Chinese. There’s a part of me that thinks he would love to hitch-hike the country, see all the sites, hunt all the different birds, and meet all the lady cats out there. But, instead, he chooses to stay with me, sleeping too many hours a day in his little hut.

Don’t you love Ohio in the Autumn? I’ve already picked up more than enough school supplies, choosing to ignore my stockpile of notebooks and journals in the corner of my room. I would send you a bouquet of pastel mechanical pencils if I knew your name and address. Or maybe marble print pens?

On the other hand, us not knowing, has its positives. There’s a comfort in the anonymity, a relief in the lack of judgment. After a stressful situation, your DM in bold brings a smile to my face.

- Triple G

Thomas


Freshly showered, clothes just out from under the iron, I sort through the Google news feeds on my phone before taking the tea bag out of the cup. Not finding anything interesting to read, I switch over to The Cleveland Museum Of Art webpage to see if there are any new events worth going to. The Michelangelo: Mind Of The Master is the newest exhibit, but I’d gone to the member preview on the twenty-first.

Patrick calls from the bathroom, where his battery-powered razor almost drowns him out, “Did you start the Keurig?”

He had asked before, so I jump up and get it going. “Yep!”

“Thanks!”

The razor goes off and then only a moment later, he’s a blur of all black as he rushes into the living room, aiming for the kitchen. “I’m late… I’m so late.”

I smirk but say nothing, this is the usual routine.

The stream of lateness and cursing is intertwined with “Rachel got fired, good riddance, and Jeremy moved away, so that’s one less person I have to avoid. Keith finally reached over a million followers, so he’s going to be insufferable.” Lid on to the to-go mug, server apron in hand, curly hair a mess, he looks to me, “Don’t forget, tonight we have that double date with Samantha and her friend Bethany.”

Shaking my head, I put my phone down, “Do I really have to go?”

He gives me a stern look, “You promised.”

My face scrunches, “I hate being set up.”

His expression doesn’t let up. “Dude.”

I roll my eyes and pick up my phone, “Fine. Now go, you’re late.”

He gestures his cup towards me, “Right, right,” his “bye” is cut off by the door being slammed.

When I hear his car kick on, my whole body relaxes. I rarely get the apartment to myself anymore. This means I rarely get time to myself anymore unless I hide in my room. So, whenever I smile at my phone or laugh, Patrick is always up my ass about who I’m talking to. And the truth is, I don’t know who she is. (Something I kind of love about our ongoing conversation.)

Leaning back in the chair, I pull up Instagram and switch from my personal account to my artsy one. Through my @GoghingGoghingGone account, I’m able to have a direct message with @TeaDropsOnRoses. Sure, we’d sent messages to each other before, our aesthetics being so similar. But it wasn’t until I posted a picture of something on campus that she asked what school I went to because it looked like a place at her campus. That we both attend Tri-C at the West campus is now the only personal detail we have known about each other.

Thackery jumps on the table and starts sniffing my tea, quickly making a grump face as the steam hits his nose. I reach over and run my fingers through his long hair, “Who’s a good boy?” This appeases him for a moment, then he jumps down. Hands free, I open the new message.


I adore the way we start messages like we’re already in the middle of a conversation. We can leave and come back at any time, hours and sometimes days going by, but we meet here, and everything is smooth.

Everything is easy.

We go by our little nicknames but if I am to talk about you, I simply say, “a friend”. Which is true! You’ve become a friend I’m excited to hear from, excited to talk to. It’s easy to imagine we’re the closest of friends, who just happen to live far away - instead of what we actually are, which is virtual strangers.

Even if it was a fluke, I’m glad you posted a picture from our campus. Otherwise, I don’t know that we would have ever really started talking. Now, one of my favorite parts of the day is our back and forth.

I had to force myself to wait this morning, sitting impatiently as I ate breakfast. But then I caved, my breath catching in my chest as I waited for the screen to load. And there it was! I hear nothing, not even the sound of my annoying neighbors, just the beat of my heart. I have a direct message… from you.

- T & R


Chapter One

Megara


Whoever said spending money is a form of self-care was not wrong. Having successfully balanced work and school for over a month now, it’s time for a little #TreatYoSelf moment. Driving into Fairlawn, jamming to old school Paramore, I’m riding that triumphant high.

Windows down, the Autumn hair is fresh in my lungs and cool on my skin. The foliage passes in a fiery blur, making me that much more excited for my favorite season. At a stoplight I hear birds chirping and I smile to myself, I think about how I too have a collection of unused journals. Maybe when I stop into Barnes And Noble, I’ll pick up another.

Going down the Medina Road strip, I mentally remind myself that I need to stop into World Market. It’s still one of the best places to pick up English tea, French wine, and Swiss chocolate. I’d have to double-check my text but if I remember correctly, Frankie needs Ramune for her sushi night with Ralph.

At Summit Mall, I pull into the left side of the food court, so I’ll have a direct path to Hot Topic. Alternative was never my scene, but their pop-culture collection is to die for. Wizarding World, Star Wars, Marvel, Disney… but also Nintendo, Pusheen, and a crazy amount of Pop Funkos.

Unfortunately, too much of their store is already taken up by Halloween costumes and there isn’t much that catches my eye. Before the rest of my venture, where I’ll probably get my steps for the day, I stop to get a strawberry smoothie. The one made by Dairy Queen/Orange Julius combo is still the best I’ve ever had, (better than Panera’s, better than Olive Garden’s). Drink in hand, I pass the Starbucks, turning left to head to Bath And Body Works for their sale on hand soaps.


Thomas


Shopping has become a very dangerous pastime for me. Not that money is an issue exactly, but I am running out of space for semi-useless junk. Window shopping or finding something out in the wild is almost as satisfying to me as driving. The twists and turns of Ohio backroads being something the brings me great peace and lets my mind wander.

Arm across the open windowsill, my fingers tap the side of my car to the beat of Three Days Grace. Old school, a CD I had in high school I’d recently found and added to my Apple library. When the stoplight finally turns green, the rush of air whips through my car, the hint of frost hard on my lungs. In that quick moment I can’t hear the music, I can’t hear the other cars, but I can hear my heartbeat.

Smiling to myself, I can’t help but think of my friend. Wondering what she’ll type next, I almost miss my turn onto Medina Road. Just making the right turn in time, I speed up, (probably a little too much). Knowing her, it’ll probably be something cute, probably something nerdy… probably something so uniquely her.

Eyeing the Barnes And Noble, I figure that should be my last stop knowing I’ll spend the most time there. Passing the Regal, I’m glad I can get Voss Water shipped to my apartment now because running to World Market had been obnoxious. Too many red lights later, I finally park to the right of the Summit Mall food court. That way it’s a straight shot to the Starbucks, where I’ve already put in a mobile order.

Weaving my way to the pick-up bar, I find my drink quickly and taste it to double-check it’s correct. Satisfied, I turn right to make my way to J. Crew for their new Autumn collection. Now that it’s sweater weather, it’s time to invest in new layers. Maybe a new pair of jeans as well since my favorite pair is finally fading after so many years of use.


Megara


A new two-liter of Coke in one hand, a huge bag of chips in the other, I’m glad to see Frankie outside on the porch. “Hey, Frankie!”

She looks up from her phone and takes a drag on her Juul. “Hey!”

Taking the steps up slowly, (because I usually hold the handrail), I can’t help but smile. “Isn’t it a beautiful evening?” On the landing, I look out to the September sunset. “Hasn’t it just been the most beautiful day?”

She makes a bemused face, “Yeah… I guess.” She takes another drag, letting out a thin stream of smoke, and follows my gaze to the sunset. “Sure.”

As she holds the door open, I ask, “Don’t you just love Ohio in Autumn?” After I put the soda in the fridge and chips on the counter, I pat the pumpkin on the table. “How perfect.”

Frankie nudges my arm as we head out to the back patio. “What is going on with you? You’re all… smiley.”

I laugh, “And that’s bad?”

She cocks a brow. “You only act this way when you’re smitten with someone.”

“Smitten? Oh…” I giggle and wave my hand, “No.”

As Frankie goes to the grill to kiss Ralph on the cheek, I slip into a chair by the iron table. I pull my new journal out of my purse and admire it, running my fingers over the leather design of roses. Using my fuzzy sweater as a background, I get the layout just so and take a picture for my aesthetic Instagram. Commenting on how all I need is a bouquet of pastel pencils, I smile to myself.

There’s a scrap of metal against the concrete as Frankie sits down. She softly kicks me before asking, “What has gotten into you?”

I shake my head and put away the journal, “Nothing – nothing at all.”

She kicks me a little harder this time. “I’mma sit here till you spill.”

Her expression is unforgiving, so when Ralph goes inside, I lean forward. “Is it even a relationship - a friendship if you don’t know each other’s names?”

“What? Like, online?”

“Yes.”

“I guess so.” Her head tilts ever so slightly, “Why?”

My shoulders lift, “I guess I’m friends with someone, then. On Instagram. It’s nothing really… just a conversation in DM’s.” In response to her smugness, I wave a hand, “We don’t even talk of anything personal. All I know is that he’s a guy and he goes to Tri-C.”

“West?”

“Yep. But! That’s all I know. Oh, well, that and he has a cat named Thackery.”

Confused, she asks, “Like from Hocus Pocus?”

“I guess? I don’t know.”

“Have you added him on Snap?”

Knowing what she’s getting at, it’s my turn to kick her. “No, God! It’s not like that at all.”

“For now.” After a deep breath, she loosens up. “So, how’d you meet him anyway?”

I start fussing with the hem of my sleeve. “I’d like his page for a while – it’s an aesthetic ‘gram like my other one. He posted something about… oh, gosh, I don’t know – Oscar Wilde maybe? And I messaged him. We’ve been following each other all Summer. But then! The first week of school, he posted something on campus. That’s when we really started talking.” Noticing her expression, I shake my head, “It’s nothing really. We talk about books and music and living in Ohio…. Harmless, innocent stuff.”

In my mini-rant, she has her phone open, “Bouquets of pastel pencils?” she quotes. I roll my eyes and now regret that I tagged him. “Goghing, Goghing, Gone… that’s cute.” I know she’s clicked to his profile now and I anxiously wait for her response. “Not even going to lie,” she finally comments, “I dig his Insta. And I get why you’re into him.”

“I’m not!” I say a little too quickly.

But she knows better. “Lit nerd, cat dad, tea drinker, who’s a member at The Cleveland Museum Of Art, and quotes early 2000’s music as descriptions. It’s like someone went into your brain and provided you with the perfect boyfriend.”

“Problem is… we don’t talk about anything personal. I don’t know his name or where he lives or if he has a job,” I say pointedly. “So, it’ll really easy for me not to have feelings, because I don’t know him.”

This isn’t exactly true, on both accounts. My best friend wasn’t wrong to say I was smitten, and I definitely do feel like I know him in an important way. My artsy Insta is me putting my heart on my sleeve and I can only assume it’s the same for him. And when you chat with someone after midnight, into the wee hours of the morning, that has to be significant. … right?

Ralph comes outside and Frankie is quick to get his attention. “You ever talk to girls online?”

His expression reflects the question ‘is this a trap’ and he slowly answers, “I did before you.”

“Right, but like, did you ever meet anyone online and want to date them or something? Or – or!” she wiggles a finger, “ever use Snap to send nudes?”

Looking to me, he’s still questioning if he’s in trouble. I explain to the poor guy, “I’m talking to someone on Insta. Your girlfriend here seems to think it’s more than it is.”

All he says is, “Only do what you’re comfortable with,” then turns to the grill.

Interrupting the flow of conversation, there’s a holler from inside. Soon enough, we see Jake coming to greet us with a pack of beers. “Ladies!”

Frankie doesn’t miss a beat, “Jake, do you do online dating?”

Having just sat down in the chair across, he’s still trying to open a beer. He looks between her and me. “Why?”

“Just answer the questions.”

He squints. “No. It’s just another way to be rejected or lied to. Much rather go to a bar, see someone face to face.”

Jake’s Chris Traeger attractiveness allows such a thing, though. It’s not until his Barney Stinson personality comes out that he’s in trouble. Ralph, on the other hand, has Marshall Eriksen kindness and humor, but the Andy Dwyer body. That’s why I much rather hear from him when it comes to dating.

“Why?” Jake turns to me. “You thinking about getting back into the dating game?”

Whether I am or not, he’s finally stopped hitting on me and I really don’t need that to start up again. “Nope.”

He leans back in his chair, shaking his head. He gives me a once over, “What a shame.”

Frankie kicks him under the table, hard.

He just about spills his beer, “Fuck!” He looks at her, “It’s a fucking compliment!”

Looking ready to kick him again, she points across the table. “Don’t start shit.”

I catch Ralph’s eye and we both start laughing. Jake may be an ass, but he’s a really good friend. Frankie may be a bitch, but she’s a really good friend. It’s such a weird dynamic we have, but I love it.


Thomas


“Well, that wasn’t a total bust, was it?” Patrick asks as we arrive back home. “I really am starting to like Samantha; I think it might actually turn into something. Did you see how excited she was when she talked about cheerleading? So cute… I wonder if she still has her uniform.

“What did you think of Bethany? Really pretty, right? And she has a three-point-five GPA, that’s not bad at all. It seemed like you two were holding a conversation well enough.”

But I’m not listening. Once the girls left the restaurant, Patrick had gone to the bathroom. I’d checked my phone and saw that T & R had posted again, a set of bonfire pictures. Since then, I’ve been trying to think of who I know might be having a bonfire tonight. After she’d made the bouquet comment under a picture of a new journal, my heart has kind of been set on meeting her in person.

“Tom? Thomas?” Patrick asks again.

I look at him, “What?”

He smiles, “I just told you Bethany likes you. See, I knew you weren’t listening to me.”

With a smirk, I shrug. “Yeah… well. I hear nothing – ‘not the sound of annoying neighbors, just the beat of my own heart’ – I think that’s how it goes.”

“You hooked up with a girl last night, didn’t you?”

I frown, “What? No.”

When he comes to sit next to me on the couch, he elbows me, “Com’on, you can tell me.”

“No, no I wasn’t with anyone.”

Thackery jumps on his lap, so he starts petting him. “What about Bethany, then? Think it’s been a while too long for you, bro.”

I check my phone and answer him absentmindedly, “Nah… I’m good.”

“Bro, what is with you tonight? You high or something?”

My shoulders slump against the back cushion. “No… no, it’s nothing. So, Samantha, huh? Really thinking about an actual relationship with her, not just a friends with benefits thing?”

He slowly scratches Thackery behind the ear, “Yeah, why not? Technically we’ve been on three dates now, anyway. I guess we already crossed that line.”

“That’s not a bad thing,” I point out. Thinking that if I could take T & R on a date, I wouldn’t hesitate.

He nods thoughtfully, “I know it’s not. But you know what it’s like being a boyfriend, there’s all this emotional responsibility. I don’t know if that’ll be too much with school and work. You know, I’m already struggling in intro to geology.”

“‘Rocks for Jocks’, really?” I sigh, “What about a tutor?”

Thackery jumps off, so he stands and heads for the kitchen, “With what time? I’m either on campus, doing homework, or serving.”

“Can you cut back on hours?”

He comes back in with a beer, “Not if I’m going to make half the rent.”

“Which, you don’t have to. You know I can handle it.”

This time he sits in the armchair, facing me. “I know you can, but I need to carry my fair share.”

This is an argument we’ve had before; this is an argument I never win. I raise my hands in premature defeat, “Alright, whatever.”

In the lull, I check my phone again. Finally, there’s a new message. “Thank God,” I whisper.

“Thank God, what?” Patrick asks.

Fuck. “Ah, nothing. Just something online.”

He’s out of his chair, on his way to the bedrooms, “Okay, dude. Good night.”

“Night,” I call after him. Getting more comfortable on the couch, I get ready to reply.


My roommate is finally dating again. Which I have to say, good for him. He tries to act like the break-up with his high school sweetheart wasn’t traumatic, but I know him better than that. I got to meet the girl tonight, she seems like a good fit.

What about you? It was a rather perfect night for a bonfire.


Chapter Two


I read a lot of stories about different businesses sort of having a resident cat. Today, I finally found one! I went to one of my favorite antique stores, and there it was. A large, fluffy Maine Coon by the look of it. It also stayed there by the cash wrap, keeping an eye on the place like a witch’s familiar.


When I adopted Thackery, that’s one of the things that crossed my mind. There definitely was a connection made when I saw him. He’s very sensitive to people’s emotions, too. That whole thing about a cat’s purr being therapeutic and helpful? Totally true.


*


There’s a particular winding road I love to take to get to and from school. Because of the timing of my last class, when I drive home the sun hits the forest just so, causing all the foliage to burst to life with color. It’s as in that drive, where my car is in the shade, that the wind picks up and dancing with the leaves. Have you ever just had a moment where you fell in love with nature?

Have you ever ridden the train in Cuyahoga Valley National Park? It’s just a scenic little thing. They have a few different types of cars, one with a glass ceiling! My dad and I go every year during the fall, it’s one of the most breathtaking experiences.


*


Confession:

I have easily read The Great Gatsby 100 times.

I just love the romance between Gatsby and Daisy. I always have so much anxiety over if Daisy really understands how much Gatsby loves her. I’m sure you’ve read it, but if not? Read it! I know you’re going to love it!


Confession:

My probably most read book is The Picture Of Dorian Gray.

There’s something about the infatuation from the painter, of Dorian’s beauty that always gets me. And then the naivety of Dorian that turns into this well-rounded, yet biased knowledge. Without conscience, it’s fascinating how a person turns out. If you haven’t read it yet, I totally recommend it. I really do think you’d enjoy it.


*


Sometimes it feels like the whole purpose of places like Subway is so that people who usually have a horrendous time making decisions, can make all the decisions for their perfect sandwich. Foot-long, chicken teriyaki, lettuce, onion, with sweet onion sauce. Etc. So, students like us, who have no idea what the Hell they’re doing, can get not just a meal, but a placebo sense of Self.


Maybe that’s why I find places like Starbucks so intimidating. I mean, aside from the prices. Their menu seems so big, with so many options. I feel like it would take me way too long to find a drink I actually like. Subway, on the other hand? Easy-peasy. Can’t go wrong with sandwiches.


Chapter Three

Megara


Grabbing out usual seats in Honors College Composition One, I nudge Frankie and whisper, “God, there he is.”

Her eyes follow my gaze to the front of the class, and she whispers back, “He is so fucking annoying.”

Brows tight, I nod, “What’s his name again?”

“Fuck if I know. Thomas? Tommy… something like that.”

I roll my eyes. “Whatever. I just wish he’d keep his mouth shut.”

Misses Meriscko suddenly walks in, so I finish pulling out my supplies. The one day the kid hasn’t been here was probably my favorite day of class. He wasn’t there to answer every question, he wasn’t there to reference nonsense, he wasn’t there to ask things that weren’t strictly relevant. Seriously, how is such a pretty guy such a teacher’s pet? Thinking about it, though, he probably annoys Meriscko just as much.

After class, Frankie and I are the last ones to leave. Down the hallway, headed to the stairs, she shakes her head. “For real though, every time Tom opens his mouth, I want to punch him in the face.”

I look around cautiously and nudge her with my elbow. Trying not to laugh, I go “Shh, someone could hear you.”

She laughs, “Right, can’t threaten violence on campus,” she teases, “it’s supposed to be a Safe Space.” On the main floor, she throws an arm around me, “Did you see his face though when you would straight up not talk to him?”

I rolled my eyes, but smiled, “He kept asking me direct questions, and it’s like, com’on dude, read the room.”

“Maybe he’s one of those assholes that needs to have to the final word.”

In building G, we cross over to the far side. Readjusting my messenger bag strap, I try to crack my neck. “It’s possible. I mean, he’s obviously very smart, but that doesn’t mean he has to prove it every chance he gets.”

“Well, you keep doing you. I think he finally realized there’s someone smarter than him in the class.”

I elbow her, “Aww, shucks.”

She holds the door to the library open, “I mean it! I know I’m in the class, too, but it’s because you help me so much. I’m definitely going to drop doing to ten-twenty next semester.”

I give her a puppy dog look on the way to the back table. “No! Don’t leave me alone. What if he’s in my class?”

She hands me a Three Musketeer’s Bar, “You’ll be just fine.”


Curled in the corner of the couch, my favorite blanket draped over me, I put my tea on the coffee table and continue reading The Great Gatsby for fun. I’d mentioned it to Triple G when I was re-arranging my bookcase and I couldn’t help but pick it up right away and start over. Soon enough I’ll have to rewatch the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, too.

“Oh my God,” Frankie comments from the kitchen.

There’s an alarm in her voice, not excitement, so I look up, “What?”

She slowly walking towards me, her phone out even though it’s too far away to see. “I found his Instagram.”

“Whose?”

“Tom, from English.” She slides in right next to me, “Look at this shit.”

I take her phone and realize she’s scrolled pretty far. Slowly making my way back to the top, I should have known this is what his profile would look like. BMW for a car, imported drinking water from Norway, shopping bags from J. Crew and Apple, the latest iPhone, a really nice looking tv with all the game systems…. But “Shit, he has a lot of books.”

She peeks over, “Well, we could have guessed that from class.”

I turn the phone towards her, “And his cat’s really cute.”

“Can’t hate on animals, that’s true.”

Almost to the top, I keep scrolling. Every so often there’s a picture of himself, usually at the gym. Tall, broad shoulders, lean muscles, square jaw, dark hair. In the sunlight, his eyes are icy blue, and when his five o’clock shadow is dark it makes him that much more handsome. “Well, and I hate to say it, but he does know how to take a good selfie.”

She grunts. “He’s probably a Leo.”

“Thomas Banks…, huh.”

Taking her phone back, she looks. “Do you think that’s his real name or because he has money?”

I try to think back to the attendance sheet. “If I remember correctly, that’s his real name.”

She lifts from the couch, “Well, either way, it fits, in a stupid Richie Rich way.”


I know it’s late and I don’t exactly want a response….

But have you ever wondered about your life in the grand scheme of things?

Sometimes I wonder… about my life, my plans, my actions – how does this really matter? What does it actually affect? My life is small. significant, to me, sure, but small. I come from a tiny family, I have a few good friends, I have a part-time job…. As you can see, most of my possessions are antique or vintage, almost always second-hand.

Does that make me any less? Is my existence somehow less valuable?

Other than school, I wonder: do I do all this because I like it? Or because it’s expected of me?

Am I choosing to do this or am I stuck because I’m not brave enough?

So much of what I do reminds me of things I’ve read or watched… shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t I be leading a grand life where when I read a book, it brings out a good memory? I guess… I guess I’m just sending this cosmic question out into the void….

So, good night, dear ‘G,

Your T & R.


Thomas


Having picked up my little sister from Dad’s, our sibling bonding day can finally start. We still had an hour or so before the start of the movie, but Ashley said she wasn’t hungry. “What about Barnes And Noble?” I look over to the passenger seat. “I bet we could kill some time in there.”

She perks up and actually looks away from her phone. I love that even though there’s a seven-year difference we still have things in common. “Yeah? We could do that. I just finished reading the last book of my to-read pile.”

“You still loving those teen romances?”

“Well, yeah…. But I think I’m switching from the fantasy genre to realistic. So many people at my school are obsessing over this supernatural series or that dystopian one – it’s getting really annoying,”

Knowing the hipster-ness runs in the family, I just smile, “Makes sense. At least it’ll be super easy then to find a new book.”

And she’s back on her phone. “Right, ‘cause the realistic ones should be on the opposite side.”

The rest of the ride is pretty silent, I never know if it’s okay to turn up the music with someone else in the car. What if they randomly want to chat? What if they don’t like the band? And as for my sister’s frequently changing taste, it’s safer just to leave it low.

Close enough to the store now, she looks up and recognizes that we’re almost there. She reaches for her purse and puts her phone away. Blinking, I know she’s trying to readjust her vision from near-sighted to far.

Lucky enough to find a free spot right in front, I slide right in and cut the engine. Ashley is quicker out of the car than I am and looks back when she gets to the doors. She holds the door open for me; I get the next one for her.

“I’m pretty sure young adult is straight back,” I point past the information desk.

She nods, “Yeah. It was a few months ago they swapped it with the anime, comic book, gaming section.”

Stopped just inside the door, I ask “Do you want anything from Starbucks?”

She shrugs, “My usual?”

“Sure thing,” and she knows I’ll meet her by the books.