• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 07
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A pretty okay date

“It’s just down here.”

The damp air felt thick along the narrow trail. Sharp branches hid behind green leaves that barely parted in time for my eyes. Ahead, Ian once again lost form in the mottled forest shadows. “I’m excited.”

I wasn’t excited. I thought, in the middle of the forest before a thunderstorm, my date might display some mystical charm through a deep connection with nature and the universe. But our conversation in the car had been about my frizzing hair and after Ian’s fourth joke, I knew he was either boring or nervous. And then he parked beside the trail, so I knew he was either going to kill me or something else, and if he killed me I wouldn’t have to go on dating apps anymore, and if it was something else then I would live. So I followed him.

Finally, after a long walk, with large volumes of conversation about jobs and interests that were uninteresting, the forest released us into a small clearing. I felt genuine intrigue at the painted concrete wall that fell away in grays the same color as the sky. A string of flags ran from the building’s roof to a fence and reminded me of parties and celebrations.

“A secret society?” I asked. “A secret temple?”

“No,” Ian said. “An old store.”

Burnt orange and gold, the shading copper, an eyeless reptile lived in the paint covering the old wall. A wooden box below this painting held a sign that read something in German.

“What do you think that says?” I asked. I felt myself smile. “Maybe it’s a spell to wake the chameleon.”


A pretty okay date

“I think it’s just about the compost. And I don’t think that’s a chameleon.” God, I realized, it’s worse than boring or nervous. He’s literal.

I walked over. Inside the box was a perfect-looking apple.

“What are you doing?” Ian asked as I picked out the apple. I smelled it, but apples never smelled like much to me while still inside their skin. I pushed it around in my fingers to find any spots too soft for eating. I then licked the top to see if the taste outside could tell me anything about the taste inside.

As I watched the reptile’s empty eyes and ate the apple, Ian walked around the structure. I think he was pretending he didn’t see my foreplay with the apple.

“This is what I wanted to show you,” he called over. “There’s some graffiti in here.”

I stared at the lizard. “Are you not graffiti?” I read the German aloud. I think it worked, because the salamander said: “People don’t get me.”

“What?” Ian shouted.

“What do I do?” I asked the gecko. “He’s literal.”

“Throw the grenade, soldier,” it responded. “For liberté!”

When Ian turned the corner, I threw the apple core so hard that it went straight into his brain and planted an apple tree. The legged snake and I split one of the fruits. A pretty okay date.