II. And when he went the wind called him on his game.

The narrow beige leaves fell insistent on his shoulders, called by the persuasive gust.  He nearly turned back.  Maybe he should have.

Too late.  Indie came out of the shop saluted by a jingling bell atop the door.  Her smile was bright; her eyes were guarded.  As  defensive as she always seemed to be, now.  She gave a slight wave of hand inviting him to join her inside, then slipped back in again without waiting for him to respond.  He followed her through the jingling door.

The bookshop gave off the appearance of having just been born, as it always did.  Stacks of books on the ground piled as high as his waist, ranged from classic literature ever-more-real-than-life, to stranger-than-fiction nonfiction.  Indie picked each one by hand, and the endeavor had gradually become her entire existence during the past year-and-a-half.   That's why he was here, really.  Because she was different.

"I know why you're here," Indie announced suddenly, default smile gone.  Her tone already sounded spiteful.  Deadened.  Resentful.  Maybe rightfully so.

"Is that right?" he answered automatically, already feeling defensive.  This is why he had to do it.  He hated it when she challenged him so pointedly like that.  It felt too dramatic.  Almost embarrassing.  And he resented her right back, for doing that to her otherwise lovely voice.

"Yes.  You've been sitting on that park bench across the street, staring at my shop all morning.  You've been steeling yourself.  Why else?"

"You tell me," he replied, annoyed despite himself.  Despite the whole morning he'd spent preparing himself against it, as she noted.

"No.  Let's just call this one your fight, shall we?"

"So we're fighting now, are we?" he shot back.

"Mitch, please.  Just tell me why you're here.  Let's just get this over with.  Please."

-L (2/1/12)

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