Wasted Words

By: Staci Hart

“Tell me stuff.”

I made a face, not wanting to admit defeat, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t pick it up again. “It’s kinda … science-y.”

Her smile fell, slipping into a pout. “Dangit, I really thought this one would be it. I mean, it’s a major motion picture, for goodness sake.” She flicked the bookmark. “You did good on this one. Look how far you made it.”

“It’s not the book,” I said in encouragement. “It’s just me. I think I just don’t like to read.”

She rolled her eyes. “Everyone likes to read. You just have to find a book that turns you on.”

I raised an eyebrow, and a flush blossomed across her cheeks as she looked up at me.

“Not like that, perv.” She laughed and socked me in the arm to divert her embarrassment. “Imaginatively. Everybody has that one book, that first book that just, like … unlocks their brain.”

I sank a little deeper in the couch. “So what was yours?”

“The Hobbit,” she said without hesitation and propped her feet on the coffee table. “It was the first novel I read that wasn’t written specifically for kids, and once I read it, I devoured everything I could get my hands on, even sneaking some of my mom’s novels. The ones on the high shelf. With penetration.”

I laughed as she continued on.

“Some kids played baseball and rode bikes. I read books. Books were what I asked for for Christmas and birthdays. They were what I spent my allowance on.”

“I think that’s the best use of allowance that I’ve ever heard. I blew mine on baseball cards and Bomb Pops on the ice cream truck.”

She shrugged. “I was weird, but so were my parents. I think it’s just an Emerson thing. But I didn’t really care, you know? I lived a thousand lives to escape from real life, because real life is boring and shitty. There’s no adventure, not like we get with Tolkien or Lewis. It’s fun to escape into a book, and I want you to experience it, so back to the drawing board we’ll go.” She picked the book up with a sigh, her fingers grazing my thigh without a thought, and she shook her head at it. “I really thought I had it this time.”

“I bet next time will be the one.”

She patted my knee and gave me a patronizing smile. “You’re sweet.”

She settled back into the couch and sank a little into the crack of the cushions. Her thigh was pressed against mine from hip to knee, and she let out a sigh. I echoed her with a sigh of my own, comforted by her warm body against mine.

“Damn, it feels good to sit down,” she said, leaning into me a little more.

“I bet.” Instinctively, I wanted to put my arm around her, but stopped myself. “Still not used to being on your feet so much?”

“Does one ever really get used to that?”

“Dunno. I figured they’d have to, right?”

“Well, if it happens, I’m not there yet. I spent most of my time managing the comic book store from the comfort of a stool behind the register. Even when we did inventory, I sat on that stool. A tired butt I can handle, but tired feet are the worst.”

I chuckled.

“Tomorrow is another long one — a meeting with everyone in the morning, managing all day, and then singles night that night. You’re still coming, right?”

“Only for you,” I answered, and that was true, even though it was sure to be a good time. I wasn’t the most social creature these days. For a long time, really. But with Cam, it was always easy.

“It makes me feel better that you’ll be there.”

“How come? You’ve got this locked with your eyes closed.”

“I dunno. You just make it easier. Like my magic feather.” She smiled up at me, and the apples of her cheeks touched the frames of her glasses.

I nudged her with my shoulder, smiling back. “Same here.”

“Anyway. I think this one will be even better than the last. Everyone loves dressing up, and dressing up as comic characters is the absolute best kind of dressing up. Is your costume settled?”

I nodded. “Just put the finishing touches on my shield.”

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