wood burnished

“My mother said I was strong enough,“ Bitterblue said, beginning to shiver. "I was ten years old, and Leck was chasing us, and she knelt before me in a field of snow and gave me a knife and said that I was strong enough to survive what was coming. She said I had the heart and the mind of a queen.”

Bitterblue turned her face away from Fire, just for a moment, because this was hard; saying this truth aloud was hard. “I want to have the heart and mind of a queen,” she whispered. “I want it more than anything. But I’m only pretending. I can’t find the feeling of it inside me.”

Fire considered her quietly. You want me to look for it inside you.

“I just want to know,” Bitterblue said. “If it’s there, it would be a great comfort for me to know.”

Fire said, I can tell you already that it’s there.

“Really?” Bitterblue whispered.

Queen Bitterblue, Fire said, shall I share with you the feeling of your own strength?

Fire took her mind so that it was as if she were in her own bedroom, raw with crying and grief.

“This doesn’t feel strong,” Bitterblue said.

Wait, said Fire, still kneeling beside her in the library. Be patient.

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On the first of May, besides the tradition when girls are kissed under the cherry blossom  otherwise they will wither,  everyone remembers a poem learned in elementary school.  

Máj/May - Karel Hynek Mácha (translation: Edith Pargeter)

Byl pozdní večer – první máj –
Late evening, on the first of May—
večerní máj – byl lásky čas.
The twilit May—the time of love.
Hrdliččin zval ku lásce hlas,
Meltingly called the turtle-dove,
kde borový zaváněl háj.
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
O lásce šeptal tichý mech;
Whispered of love the mosses frail,
květoucí strom lhal lásky žel,
The flowering tree as sweetly lied,
svou lásku slavík růži pěl,
The rose’s fragrant sigh replied
růžinu jevil vonný vzdech.
To love-songs of the nightingale.
Jezero hladké v křovích stinných
In shadowy woods the burnished lake
zvučelo temně tajný bol,
Darkly complained a secret pain,
břeh je objímal kol a kol;
By circling shores embraced again;
a slunce jasná světů jiných
And heaven’s clear sun leaned down to take
bloudila blankytnými pásky,
A road astray in azure deeps,
planoucí tam co slzy lásky.
Like burning tears the lover weeps.

1
There are two twins on motorbikes but one is farther up the road, beyond
the hairpin turn, or just before it, depending on which twin you are in
love with at the time. Do not choose sides yet. It is still to your advan-
tage to remain impartial. Both motorbikes are shiny red and both boys
have perfect teeth, dark hair, soft hands. The one in front will want to
take you apart, and slowly. His deft and stubby fingers searching every
shank and lock for weaknesses. You could love this boy with all your
heart. The other brother only wants to stitch you back together. The
sun shines down. It’s a beautiful day. Consider the hairpin turn. Do not
choose sides yet.


2
There are two twins on motorbikes but one is farther up the road. Let’s
call them Jeff. And because the first Jeff is in front we’ll consider him
the older, and therefore responsible for lending money and the occa-
sional punch in the shoulder. World-wise, world-weary, and not his
mother’s favorite, this Jeff will always win when it all comes down to
fisticuffs. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t always all come down to
fisticuffs. Jeff is thinking about his brother down the winding road be-
hind him. He is thinking that if only he could cut him open and peel him
back and crawl inside this second skin, then he could relive that last mile
again: reborn, wild-eyed, free.


3
There are two twins on motorbikes but one is farther up the road, beyond
the hairpin turn, or just before it, depending on which Jeff you are. It
could have been so beautiful—you scout out the road ahead and I will
watch your back, how it was and how it will be, memory and fantasy—
but each Jeff wants to be the other one. My name is Jeff and I’m tired
of looking at the back of your head. My name is Jeff and I’m tired of
seeing my hand me down clothes. Look, Jeff, I’m telling you, for the
last time, I mean it, etcetera. They are the same and they are not the
same. They are the same and they hate each other for it.


4
Your name is Jeff and somewhere up ahead of you your brother has
pulled to the side of the road and he is waiting for you with a lug wrench
clutched in his greasy fist. 0 how he loves you, darling boy. 0 how, like
always, he invents the monsters underneath the bed to get you to sleep
next to him, chest to chest or chest to back, the covers drawn around
you in an act of faith against the night. When he throws the wrench into
the air it will catch the light as it spins toward you. Look—it looks like
a star. You had expected something else, anything else, but the wrench
never reaches you. It hangs in the air like that, spinning in the air like
that. It’s beautiful.


5
Let’s say God in his High Heaven is hungry and has decided to make
himself some tuna fish sandwiches. He’s already finished making two
of them, on sourdough, before he realizes that the fish is bad. What is
he going to do with these sandwiches? They’re already made, but he
doesn’t want to eat them.

Let’s say the Devil is played by two men. We’ll call them Jeff. Dark
hair, green eyes, white teeth, pink tongues—they’re twins. The one on
the left has gone bad in the middle, and the other one on the left is about
to. As they wrestle, you can tell that they have forgotten about God, and
they are very hungry.


6
You are playing cards with three men named Jeff. Two of the Jeffs seem
somewhat familiar, but the Jeff across from you keeps staring at your
hands, your mouth, and you’re certain that you’ve never seen this Jeff
before. But he’s on your team, and you’re ahead, you’re winning big,
and yet the other Jeffs keep smiling at you like there’s no tomorrow.
They all have perfect teeth: white, square, clean, even. And, for some
reason, the lighting in the room makes their teeth seem closer than they
should be, as if each mouth was a place, a living room with pink carpet
and the window’s open. Come back from the window, Jefferson. Take off
those wet clothes and come over here, by the fire.


7
You are playing cards with three Jeffs. One is your father, one is your
brother, and the other is your current boyfriend. All of them have seen
you naked and heard you talking in your sleep. Your boyfriend Jeff gets
up to answer the phone. To them he is a mirror, but to you he is a room.
Phone’s for you, Jeff says. Hey! It’s Uncle Jeff, who isn’t really your
uncle, but you can’t talk right now, one of the Jeffs has put his tongue
in your mouth. Please let it be the right one.


8
Two brothers are fighting by the side of the road. Two motorbikes have
fallen over on the shoulder, leaking oil into the dirt, while the interlocking
brothers grapple and swing. You see them through the backseat
window as you and your parents drive past. You are twelve years old.
You do not have a brother. You have never experienced anything this
ferocious or intentional with another person. Your mother is pretending
that she hasn’t seen anything. Your father is fiddling with the knobs
of the radio. There is an empty space next to you in the backseat of the
station wagon. Make it the shape of everything you need. Now say
hello.


9
You are in an ordinary suburban bedroom with bunk beds, a bookshelf,
two wooden desks and chairs. You are lying on your back, on the top
bunk, very close to the textured ceiling, staring straight at it in fact, and
the room is still dark except for a wedge of powdery light that spills in
from the adjoining bathroom. The bathroom is covered in mint green
tile and someone is in there, singing very softly. Is he singing to you?
For you? Black cherries in chocolate, the ring around the moon, a bee-
tle underneath a glass—you cannot make out all the words, but you’re
sure he knows you’re in there, and he’s singing to you, even though you
don’t know who he is.


10
You see it as a room, a tabernacle, the dark hotel. You’re in the hallway
again, and you open the door, and if you’re ready you’ll see it, but
maybe one part of your mind decides that the other parts aren’t ready,
and then you don’t remember where you’ve been, and you find yourself
down the hall again, the lights gone dim as the left hand sings the right
hand back to sleep. It’s a puzzle: each piece, each room, each time you
put your hand to the knob, your mouth to the hand, your ear to the
wound that whispers.

You’re in the hallway again. The radio is playing your favorite song.
You’re in the hallway. Open the door again. Open the door.


11
Suppose for a moment that the heart has two heads, that the heart has
been chained and dunked in a glass booth filled with river water. The
heart is monologing about hesitation and fulfillment while behind the
red brocade the heart is drowning. Can the heart escape? Does love
even care? Snow falls as we dump the booth in the bay.

Suppose for a moment we are crowded around a pier, waiting for something
to ripple the water. We believe in you. There is no danger. It is not
getting dark, we want to say.


12
Consider the hairpin turn. It is waiting for you like a red door or the
broken leg of a dog. The sun is shining, O how the sun shines down!
Your speedometer and your handgrips and the feel of the road below
you, how it knows you, the black ribbon spread out on the greens be-
tween these lines that suddenly don’t reach to the horizon. It is waiting,
like a broken door, like the red dog that chases its tail and eats your rose-
bushes and then must be forgiven. Who do you love, Jeff? Who do you
love? You were driving toward something and then, well, then you
found yourself driving the other way. The dog is asleep. The road is be-
hind you. O how the sun shines down.


13
This time everyone has the best intentions. You have cancer. Let’s say
you have cancer. Let’s say you’ve swallowed a bad thing and now it’s
got its hands inside you. This is the essence of love and failure. You see
what I mean but you’re happy anyway, and that’s okay, it’s a love story
after all, a lasting love, a wonderful adventure with lots of action,
where the mirror says mirror and the hand says hand and the front
door never says Sorry Charlie. So the doctor says you need more
stitches and the bruise cream isn’t working. So much for the facts. Let’s
say you’re still completely in the dark but we love you anyway. We
love you. We really do.


14
After work you go to the grocery store to get some milk and a carton of
cigarettes. Where did you get those bruises? You don’t remember.
Work was boring. You find a jar of bruise cream and a can of stewed
tomatoes. Maybe a salad? Spinach, walnuts, blue cheese, apples, and
you can’t decide between the Extra Large or Jumbo black olives. Which
is bigger anyway? Extra Large has a blue label, Jumbo has a purple
label. Both cans cost $1.29. While you’re deciding, the afternoon light
is streaming through the windows behind the bank of checkout coun-
ters. Take the light inside you like a blessing, like a knee in the chest,
holding onto it and not letting it go. Now let it go.


15
Like sandpaper, the light, or a blessing, or a bruise. Blood everywhere,
he said, the red light hemorrhaging from everywhere at once. The train
station blue, your lips blue, hands cold and the blue wind. Or a horse,
your favorite horse now raised up again out of the mud and galloping
galloping always toward you. In your ruined shirt, on the last day, while
the bruise won’t heal, and the stain stays put, the red light streaming in
from everywhere at once. Your broken ribs, the back of your head, your
hand to mouth or hand to now, right now, like you mean it, like it’s split-
ting you in two. Now look at the lights, the lights.


16
You and your lover are making out in the corner booth of a seedy bar.
The booths are plush and the drinks are cheap and in this dim and
smoky light you can barely tell whose hands are whose. Someone raises
their glass for a toast. Is that the Hand of Judgment or the Hand of
Mercy? The bartender smiles, running a rag across the burnished wood
of the bar. The drink in front of you has already been paid for. Drink it,
the bartender says. It’s yours, you deserve it. It’s already been paid for.
Somebody’s paid for it already. There’s no mistake, he says. It’s your drink,
the one you asked for, just the way you like it. How can you refuse Hands
of fire, hands of air, hands of water, hands of dirt. Someone’s doing all
the talking but no one’s lips move. Consider the hairpin turn.


17
The motorbikes are neck and neck but where’s the checkered flag we
all expected, waving in the distance, telling you you’re home again,
home? He’s next to you, right next to you in fact, so close, or… he isn’t.
Imagine a room. Yes, imagine a room: two chairs facing the window but
nobody moves. Don’t move. Keep staring straight into my eyes. It feels
like you’re not moving, the way when, dancing, the room will suddenly
fall away. You’re dancing: you’re neck and neck or cheek to cheek, he’s
there or he isn’t, the open road. Imagine a room. Imagine you’re danc-
ing. Imagine the room now falling away. Don’t move.


18
Two brothers: one of them wants to take you apart. Two brothers: one
of them wants to put you back together. It’s time to choose sides now.
The stitches or the devouring mouth? You want an alibi? You don’t get
an alibi, you get two brothers. Here are two Jeffs. Pick one. This is how
you make the meaning, you take two things and try to define the space
between them. Jeff or Jeff? Who do you want to be? You just wanted
to play in your own backyard, but you don’t know where your own yard
is, exactly. You just wanted to prove there was one safe place, just one
safe place where you could love him. You have not found that place yet.
You have not made that place yet. You are here. You are here. You’re
still right here.


19
Here are your names and here is the list and here are the things you left
behind: The mark on the floor from pushing your chair back, your un-
derwear, one half brick of cheese, the kind I don’t like, wrapped up, and
poorly, and abandoned on the second shelf next to the poppyseed dress-
ing, which is also yours. Here’s the champagne on the floor, and here
are your house keys, and here are the curtains that your cat peed on.
And here is your cat, who keeps eating grass and vomiting in the hall-
way. Here is the list with all of your names, Jeff. They’re not the same
name, Jeff. They’re not the same at all.


20
There are two twins on motorbikes but they are not on motorbikes,
they’re in a garden where the flowers are as big as thumbs. Imagine you
are in a field of daisies. What are you doing in a field of daisies? Get up!
Let’s say you’re not in the field anymore. Let’s say they’re not brothers
anymore. That’s right, they’re not brothers, they’re just one guy, and
he knows you, and he’s talking to you, but you’re in pain and you can-
not understand him. What are you still doing in this field? Get out of
the field! You should be in the hotel room! You should, at least, be try-
ing to get back into the hotel room. Ah! Now the field is empty.


21
Hold onto your voice. Hold onto your breath. Don’t make a noise,
don’t leave the room until I come back from the dead for you. I will
come back from the dead for you. This could be a city. This could be a
graveyard. This could be the basket of a big balloon. Leave the lights
on. Leave a trail of letters like those little knots of bread we used to
dream about. We used to dream about them. We used to do a lot of
things. Put your hand to the knob, your mouth to the hand, pick up the
bread and devour it. I’m in the hallway again, I’m in the hallway. The
radio’s playing my favorite song. Leave the lights on. Keep talking. I’ll
keep walking toward the sound of your voice.


22
Someone had a party while you were sleeping but you weren’t really
sleeping, you were sick, and parts of you were burning, and you
couldn’t move. Perhaps the party was in your honor. You can’t remem-
ber. It seems the phone was ringing in the dream you were having but
there’s no proof. A dish in the sink that might be yours, some clothes on
the floor that might belong to someone else. When was the last time you
found yourself looking out of this window. Hey! This is a beautiful
window! This is a beautiful view! 1 hose trees lined up like that, and the
way the stars are spinning over them like that, spinning in the air like
that, like wrenches.


23
Let’s say that God is the space between two men and the Devil is the
space between two men. Here: I’ll be all of them-Jeff and Jeff and Jeff
and Jeff are standing on the shoulder of the highway, four motorbikes
knocked over, two wrenches spinning in the ordinary air. Two of these
Jeffs are windows, and two of these Jeffs are doors, and all of these Jeffs
are trying to tell you something. Come closer. We’ll whisper it in your
ear. It’s like seeing your face in a bowl of soup, cream of potato, and the
eyes shining back like spoons. If we wanted to tell you everything, we
would leave more footprints in the snow or kiss you harder. One thing.
Come closer. Listen …

24
You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won’t tell you that he loves
you, but he loves you. And you feel like you’ve done something terr-
ible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself
a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired. You’re in a car with a beautiful boy,
and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to
choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and
he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your
heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you
don’t even have a name for.

—  Richard Siken, You Are Jeff.
Preference #22: Sweater

Niall: “I…. Y/N,… I… I’m stuck.” Niall’s muffled complaints roused you from your peaceful slumber and you frowned in frustration, turning your face into your pillow in an attempt to fall back asleep. “Y/N…” Niall’s voice, closer this time, sounded you once more and you sighed, opening your unwilling eyes. “Ni… what…. what the hell?” Blinking rapidly in the early morning light, you felt your lips curl into a smile, clasping your hands over your mouth in an attempt to maintain your slightly indignant expression, all the while failing miserably. Standing before you, his body a mess of tangled limbs and an even more contorted sweater, was your boyfriend, his face and hair hidden by what you assumed used to be a tailored, fitted sweater. Sighing quietly, you noted how, in his confusion, your boyfriend had managed to stretch the knitted cream into something that resembled a fallen sheep in battle more than anything, and suppressing another giggle, you hopped off the bed to help. “How did you even manage this, Ni? It’s too early for this, even for you.” Tugging at the sleeves of the sweater, you finally managed to get Niall situated, rolling your eyes as his laughing blue eyes emerged from the mess of soft cashmere. “Morning, darling,” he grinned, pressing a light peck to your forehead, “Sorry about that.” Glancing at the clock on the bedside table, Niall smiled guiltily, rubbing his face with the amorphous sleeve of his sweater. You crossed your arms, attempting to look every bit the resentful, sleepless girlfriend about to question her boyfriend. “Niall…” gesturing to your still beaming, but noticeably more guilty boyfriend, you released a breath of air, “Just… how?” Shrugging like an innocent five year old, Niall mumbled something along the lines of, “‘S difficult to put on a sweater…,” while turning his face towards yours once more, his smile hopeful. Before you could catch yourself, you felt yourself drawing Niall into your arms, fits of laughter escaping your lips. “You’re lucky you’re cute,” you whispered, face tucked into Niall’s chest, “Otherwise I’d be so mad at you waking me up. Especially for this.” With a small chuckle, Niall tilted your chin up, brushing your lips with his, “Sorry, love. I’ll try to get stuck in my sweaters around noon next time.” With another eye roll, you pressed a kiss to Niall’s cheek, “That sounds better.”

Harry: “Babe, I’m home!” Shutting the door behind you, you stepped into the foyer, hanging your keys upon the key-holder as you listened for Harry’s response. Hearing nothing, you felt your brow furrow in confusion, calling out once more for your boyfriend, “Harry?” A distant, “‘M here,” sounded from your bedroom, and apprehension washed over you at the guilty note to your boyfriend’s reply. Climbing the stairs, you hesitated at the firmly shut door to your bedroom, fingers gliding over the burnished wood, “Is everything alright in there?” All noise from within your bedroom ceased for a moment before Harry’s pleading, “I think so?” reached your ears, a sure sign that you would walk into a disaster zone. Bracing yourself for the inevitable dragon or whatever mythical creature that Harry was surely trying to tame within the confines of your room, you opened the door, squeezing your eyes shut and praying that you wouldn’t be roasted or turned into stone. “Har-what? What’s this?” Yarn littered your room, draped across every possible surface, somehow even making its appearance on your ceiling, swaying gently from the defeated-looking fan. “I… it’s not as bad as it looks.” Harry peered at you apologetically from where he was sitting cross-legged on the floor, “See… I was watching this video online on how to knit a sweater and it suddenly occurred to me that I’d never tried before, y’know?” Gesturing about him as if his explanation rectified the catastrophe that was your room, Harry shrugged sheepishly, “I didn’t mean to make a mess, Y/N, honest, it’s just… the yarn has a life of its own! I didn’t think it looked as hard as it was, but it’s hard.” Harry’s shoulders slumped in defeat and you bit back a smile at the dejected boy sitting before you, “Okay…” motioning above you, you felt your brow furrow in confusion once more, “but how did you end up with yarn on the ceiling?” Harry glanced up, a surprised “O” decorating his face, “I… I don’t know. I didn’t even see that.” Extending his arms hopefully, the green-eyed boy offered you a nervous smile, “Forgive me?” As if drawn to him, (because, really, you were; who could resist that smile?) you felt yourself folding into his embrace, a smile tugging at the corners of your lips, “You’re so silly. You’re lucky I can’t stay mad at you.” His voice muffled in your hair, Harry kissed you once before replying, “I know, and I’m sorry. I’ll clean it up.” Giggling, you leaned back, brushing a curl away from Harry’s smooth forehead, “You act as if you have a choice.” Before Harry could respond, you pressed a kiss to his lips, effectively shutting him up. “Sorry, love,” he breathed, leaning into the kiss.

Liam: “Cold, love?” Pulling you into his embrace, Liam pressed a kiss to your trembling lips, poking your nose as he leaned away, surveying you. “You’re shivering like crazy,” he noted, his brow furrowing in worry. Shaking your head in protest, you gripped onto your boyfriend’s shirt, your argument dying on your lips as another wave of shivering overcame you. “I’m fine, Li,” you muttered, your toes curling with your lie as you clenched your jaw against your chattering teeth, “I’m fine, really.” Liam rolled his eyes, pulling away from you and ignoring your protests at his absence as he disappeared into the closet, his shirtless back on display. Despite the warmth of the room, you shivered once more, tugging the blankets closer to you while cursing whoever had gotten you sick. A victorious, “Aha!” pulled you from your now slightly-vengeful thoughts, and you felt your lips curl into a smile at the sight of your boyfriend emerging with a large, grey sweater, “Found it!” Wiggling slightly in a victory dance, Liam practically skipped across the room to the bed, tugging at the quilt that you were clinging to so persistently. “Babe, come on. You’re freezing, and this will make you feel better, I promise.” Liam placed a kiss on your forehead, smiling as your reluctant fingers relinquished the blanket, protests dying at your lips. Almost unceremoniously, Liam pulled the sweater on you, his warm hands dancing across your ribs in his haste to get you warm. “Li…” your muffled cries were ignored as Liam guided you through the process of putting on the sweater. “Liam, I know how to put on a sweater!” At last, your head popped through the sweater’s neck hole, and you were greeted with another kiss and Liam bundling you into the blankets once more. “I know, he muttered, climbing underneath the covers with you, “but you’re sick and I don’t want you to do anything.” Smiling at your boyfriend’s sweetness, you gripped his fingers between your now slightly less freezing ones, “Thanks, babe.” Shrugging once more, Liam held you tighter, and you sighed quietly, warm at last between the layers that surrounded you and the loving arms of your boyfriend.

Zayn: “And then Niall nearly got us kicked out because he was eating everything…” Zayn’s sleepy murmurs caused your eyes to slip close despite your best efforts to remain awake for the rest of the story, and you blinked rapidly in response. The two of you were laying in front of the fire, a mess of tangled limbs and hushed whispers, as Zayn continued retelling the events that had occurred that day. You cuddled into your boyfriend’s side while he mumbled about the boys’ rehearsal and the food fight that had ensued when Harry had accidentally tripped and dropped a plate of chicken wings into Louis’ lap. Sighing quietly, you pressed a kiss to Zayn’s jaw, brushing a few stray hairs away from his face with your sweater-covered hand. The sleeve of Zayn’s sweater extended far past your hands, and he chuckled at your efforts to situate it around your wrists once more, all thoughts of his story flying out the window. “Shush, it’s not my fault you have abnormally long arms,” you mumbled, ducking your head into Zayn’s chest, “You’re the one who’s weird.” Zayn suppressed a smile at your failed attempts to tease him, “I don’t know about that, love,” he muttered, wrapping his arms around you, nuzzling his face into your hair. You were immediately encased in the faint smell of cigarettes and the lingering scent of the cologne Zayn had sprayed earlier, and you sighed quietly, “You’re the one who’s weird.” Noticing the slur of your words and how your eyes had drifted shut, Zayn pressed another soft kiss to your lips, scooping you into his arms as he headed for your bedroom, a smile gracing his lips at how you curled closer towards his chest in your sleep. Once you had been tucked into bed, Zayn placed a good night kiss on your forehead, smoothing your hair away from your face, “Night, love. You’re the one who’s weird.”

Louis: “Hi, how may I help you today?” Glancing up from the register, you bit back a scream at the blue eyes that were looking into yours. “I… uh,” flustered, you gestured towards the boy before you, biting back the urge to scream “It’s Louis Tomlinson!” at the top of our lungs. Smiling ruefully while relaxing significantly, Louis held up a shopping bag for you to see, “God, this is a bit embarrassing actually,” he muttered, flushing slightly, “but I accidentally bought the wrong sized sweater and was wondering if I could exchange it?” Nodding stiffly because you didn’t trust yourself you speak, you took the bag from the man who stood before you, removing the sweater from it’s paper surroundings. Once the maroon wool came into view, you couldn’t help but let a giggle escape your lips at the size of the sweater, one better suited for a toddler than a grown man. “I,” running his hand through his hair, Louis flushed a darker shade of red, “ I might have misread the sizing online.” Glancing up and hoping for divine assistance to aid you on your quest to keep from laughing, you managed a forced, “That’s understandable,” before ducking your head to hide your smirk. “I can see you’re laughing at me, you know.” Louis’ amused statement caused you to raise your head in surprise, and he smiled lightly, “I guess I would be too, so I can’t blame you.” Nodding and laughing quietly, you scanned the tag, frowning when the machine refused to recognize the barcode. “I… Im sorry, you muttered apologetically, “It’s not normally like this.” As you struggled with the sweater, Louis shuffled embarrassedly, noticing the line that was forming behind him. “No, it’s my fault,” Louis muttered, a look of relief crossing his face as a few of your co-workers stepped up to the other cash registers. After what felt like hours but was in actuality a little over a half hour, you finally managed to work the cash register, and you offered Louis another apologetic smile, “I’m sorry about that,” you offered, flushing guiltily, “That doesn’t normally happen.” Accepting his new, appropriately sized sweater, Louis shook his head, dismissing your apology, “It’s fine. Although, you can make up my lost time for me. How about dinner?” Flushing red, you typed your number into his phone, a smile forming at the dancing blue eyes before you, “A date sounds nice.”

A/N: Sorry for not writing in so long, but I’m back! I’m not sure if I’ll be posting frequently, but I doubt I’ll be on hiatus for as long ever again. I hope you guys like this one, and I hope it hasn’t been too long (I know it has been, for me at least). As always, you can always message me here for requests or feedback. Thank you for reading! :)

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