Afterschool Snack

By Lori Cramer

I used to look forward to hanging out with Meghan, but lately the only place she wants to go is the food court. Ever since the guy at Pop’s Pizza said he liked her Louisville Slugger T-shirt she’s been obsessed with him. She doesn’t know his name, so she calls him “Pizza Honey.” Not to his face, of course. She doesn’t say anything to his face except “One slice of plain, please.” 

When our slices are ready, Meghan drags me over to the table closest to Pizza Honey’s register so she can stare at him while we eat. While I eat, that is. Meghan’s too busy gabbing about how gorgeous he looks in his uniform, how his eyes are as blue as the summer sky, how he’s so much cuter than the guy at Tasty Taco. I keep telling her she should strike up a conversation with him, but she insists she’s too shy. She wants me to ask him his name. You know what I want? To talk about something other than Pizza Honey for a change.

One day, another Pop’s Pizza employee emerges from the back room with a pile of paper plates. Plopping them down next to Pizza Honey, he asks, “Need anything else, Beck?” Meghan’s face lights up. Finally, she knows his name!

The next day, while we’re pretending to study the menu—even though we always order the same thing—a girl dressed in head-to-toe black, like the people who squirt perfume on department-store shoppers, slinks over to him and purrs, “Hey, Beck Baby.”

Meghan gasps. 

Beck grins at the perfume girl. “I thought you said your break wasn’t ’til five.”

“Yeah, but I couldn’t wait that long to see you.” Placing her hands on the metal bars intended for trays, she leans over the napkins, straws, and plastic utensils and kisses him. Right there in the middle of the food court!

Meghan’s eyes brim with tears. She turns away with a whimper. 

I pat her shoulder. Meghan can be awfully dramatic sometimes, but she’s my best friend.

The perfume girl tells Beck she’s got to get going before her boss discovers she’s gone.

“You’ll be back at five, though, right?” Beck asks.

“You better believe it!” She smooches him again. “See you soon, Beck Baby.”

Beck beams. “Can’t wait.” Leaning all the way over the register, he watches as she sashays away. Once she’s out of sight, his eyes meet mine. “Can I help you?” 

Meghan whirls around to face him. “No, as a matter of fact, you can’t help us,” she snaps. “There’s nothing here we want. Nothing at all!” She grabs my arm. “Come on. Let’s go get some tacos.”   

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Lori Cramer’s short prose has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Fictive Dream, Flash Fiction Magazine, Unbroken Journal, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for Best Microfiction. Links to her writing can be found at Twitter: @LCramer29.

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