Story Saturday #2 // “Strangers”

“Can I call you her name?”

Her sister looks up. She looks like her, he thinks. Not exactly, but more than the girl in the 24-hour supermarket and the girl in the car.

“How many girls said ‘yes’?”

He did not wait for an invitation before he sat down beside her. Her sister had the same shadow crossing her face as she looked away from him. “I didn’t have to ask you if someone had said ‘yes’, did I?”

Her sister takes another sip. “If you say so.” When she would have started a discussion with him, her sister does not bother. “Did you hope to see her here?”

“I see her everywhere,” he answers. “Don’t you?”

Her sister looks at him. Three glasses, he thinks. “No.” A fourth starts to sound better with every second passing.

“She’s sitting over there.” He points towards a girl in a red leather chair, close to the window. Her sister does not turn around. “She doesn’t order anything, but she wants to keep the chair.”

“Why?” Teeth sink into an olive.

“That’s the only spot she has an internet connection.”

Her sister laughs and the three glasses sound hollow. He remembers the secret curling of the left corner of her mouth when she thought no one was looking. The twisting of her hair around her finger and the sighing of the sheets when she rose.

“Where else do you see her?”

He orders what her sister drinks. “In the 24-hour supermarket. She smiled at me from behind the counter. I bought some cigarettes.”

Her sister shakes her head when he holds up his pack. “I quit. Saves a lot of money.”

“The girl I met just now did too. Three months.” Her sister looks at him, confusion blinking in her eyes, and he continues: “She gave me a ride. I was walking beside the road and she called my name. I don’t want to drive anymore. The leather smells like her. This girl gave me ride. We took a detour, because she let me pick the route. She looked like her, the girl. The same teeth.”

Once more, her sister laughed. This time, it sounded more like her. “The same teeth…” Her sister raised her hands to her mouth, an invisible cigarette, that she brushes past her lips. “Do you think she was in pain?”

He says: “When I close my eyes, I see her. Not like she was when she woke up that morning, but when I found her. By the road.”

“It wasn’t your fault.” Her sister looks at him and he sees the dark circles beneath her eyes. She had wiped too many times. The green was painted black. Like the grass beside the motorway. “Can you hold me?”

For a moment, just a moment, she was with him again. He held her like he did right after the crash. Blood stuck to his fingers, as they were gliding through her hair like oil through cilinders. Her skin was embellished with fragments of glass and her mouth polished red. She had bit her lip.

The car was indented, crushed, after it had met destiny. Just like her.

“You can call me Anna,” her sister says.

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