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Introducing Sarah Steinberg

I’ve been so busy with my new summer friends

By Sarah Steinberg

I’ve been so busy with my new summer friends that I hardly have time for the old ones. But I try to stay in touch. I still see my little Starbucks angel every morning. He floats by me, a cup of Venti Pike in his delicate hands, and it’s as if he doesn’t have feet. He glides across the floor like the whisper of a kiss on a snowflake. When he smiles at me, I flutter my lashes at him, but usually it looks like I’m winking. I pretend I meant to do it, and make the A-OK sign at him. How are you, he chirps, and I frown and show him that my thumb and index finger are touching. Then he furrows his manicured brows at me. Sometimes he’ll roll his eyes. It’s the little things. We’re getting closer.

When I get to work, Stewart the student loan man usually calls. Hey look, we’re going to start dipping into your bank account, Stewart teases. Ha ha ha, I say, you’re so funny! No seriously, Stewart says. We’re going to come to your house and repossess all your stuff. Oh Stewart, I say, you sure make me laugh. Stewart always goes silent when I say that. I’m really not kidding, he says, we’re going to take everything you own. We’ll take your fucking toaster oven. But it’s just this game we play. That’s the part where I hang up on him. The next part is when he calls back and I pretend I don’t speak English. He loves that. We have a thing.

I still make time for my neighbour’s dog Bruce, a fat pug with eyes on the side of his head. Bruce pants and grunts and jumps on my lap whenever he sees me. His face is so ugly that it’s come back around to the other side, where adorable starts. I often wonder what Bruce would be like if he were my boyfriend. Bruce, would you lift the sofa so I can look at the dust bunnies? Bruce, can you chop this Swiss Chard please? Oh Bruce, I’d say, let’s get married. He would wear his little tuxedo. He would stick his paw under his collar to loosen the neck. Goddammit, this thing’s like a straight jacket, he’d say. We would exchange meaningful vows.

Sometimes I stop in at the corner store on my way home and say hi to Tony. He’s an old guy who stands behind the counter with a gardening hose in his hand. He points it at the kids that come in after school. Don’t even think about it, he yells. The kids laugh at him and he growls. When I come in he always smiles. Sarah, he says, where have you been? I’ve missed you, he says, and hands me a cookie. It’s always soaking wet, but I don’t want to embarrass him. Thanks Tony, I say, and just like that, I slide it into my mouth. We’re the best of friends.

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