“I’ve got to head in to work for a few hours, but we could meet at a bar after that. Here’s my number,” she said, and wrote the digits on the back of her business card with precise strokes of her pen. She handed it to me. It was too dim to read either side of it, so I slipped it into a pocket. She stared at me. “Where’s yours?”

“Oh, mine?” I felt the hot burn of shame creep up my collar. “I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a cell phone. Genuine fear of whatever waves those things emit.” I could tell right away that she was weirded out, as most people are. She shrugged and stood, smoothing the front of her grey skirt. I noticed that her nail polish was a light blue, ten little robin eggs. She left.

“Claudia’s always trying to bag some fresh game, if you know what I’m saying,” said the man sitting next to me on the sofa. He leaned in close and whispered, “I wouldn’t get too attached.”

“I don’t think there’s any worry of that,” I said. “I don’t really have any way of getting in touch with her.” I looked at the objects on the table, and wondered when and how I was going to deliver them.

I’d aligned them in a neat row. They were all made from heavy white marble, as pure as chalk. From left to right: a cone as tall as my index finger, terminating in a wickedly sharp point; a sphere balanced on one end of a narrow plank, seated in a small depression so that it didn’t move; a cylinder that was a little fatter and shorter than the cone; and a brittle-looking teacup. Each of the objects had come with an address, and I’d set them there on the table to get organized. It was my last delivery of the day, too, and I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

If only that strange party hadn’t started.

2015.02.13 – 2023.09.09

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