>GIVE THE ANTICHRIST A CIGARETTE

>Take, for example, this rolled up cuff at the bottom of her jeans. Twice rolled over, ever so carefully. This shows a real care taken at the start of her day. So many of us, we wouldn’t take the time to roll up our jeans, we’d just let them hang however they wanted, dragging behind us in the dirt, grinding down the hem beneath the back of our shoes. Not her. And her shirt, a rancher’s button-down with embroidery curled above her breastbone. There’s not a crease, not a frayed edge to be seen. There’s a gold thread running through the check, the sort of material that no one bothers to make any more. Her shirt is so obviously old, but so obviously cared for. She wears a backpack, beaten leather, shrugging off the convention of giant bags that hang off one shoulder, wrecking your posture. And, of course, it suits her.

As for me, I’m slouching terribly. I’ve slumped down way too far in my chair, and the worst thing is that I don’t notice till my head is almost touching the backrest. My mouth is a tobacco graveyard. I feel worn-out, spent, in her presence. But why should I? In this flat-street city, in this beach shack kiosk, there’s no reason to be anything but exactly who you are. I’m halfway through some chips that have already gone soggy in their cardboard container. Grease grows like sunspots on the butcher’s paper tablecloth.

She orders something from the counter, paying for it with this year’s coins. I swill coffee in a chipped mug, thinking how Hell is just so much less work than this place. But, as you know, I made my choice.

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