Maracquired met Robert on a Wednesday night towards the finish of her loss semester. She was working behind the concession stand also at the artsy movie theatre downtown once he came in and also bought a big popcorn and a box of Red Vines.

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“That’s an . . . inexplicable option,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever actually offered a box of Red Vines before.”

Flirting through her customers was a halittle she’d picked up back as soon as she functioned as a barista, and it helped with tips. She didn’t earn tips at the movie theatre, yet the job was boring otherwise, and she did think that Robert was cute. Not so cute that she would have actually, say, gone approximately him at a party, however cute enough that she could have drummed up an imaginary crush on him if he’d sat throughout from her during a dull class—though she was pretty sure that he was out of college, in his mid-twenties at leastern. He was tall, which she liked, and also she might watch the edge of a tatas well peeking out from beneath the rolled-up sleeve of his shirt. But he was on the heavy side, his beard was a small also lengthy, and his shoulders slumped forward slightly, as though he were protecting something.

Robert did not pick up on her flirtation. Or, if he did, he confirmed it just by stepping back, as though to make her lean towards him, try a small harder. “Well,” he shelp. “O.K., then.” He pocketed his readjust.

But the following week he came right into the movie theatre aobtain, and also bought an additional box of Red Vines. “You’re gaining much better at your task,” he told her. “You regulated not to insult me this time.”

She shrugged. “I’m up for a proactivity, so,” she shelp.

After the movie, he came ago to her. “Concession-stand girl, provide me your phone number,” he shelp, and, surprising herself, she did.

From that small exreadjust about Red Vines, over the following a number of weeks they gathered an intricate scaffolding of jokes through message, riffs that unfolded and shifted so easily that she occasionally had actually a hard time maintaining up. He was extremely clever, and she discovered that she had to occupational to impush him. Soon she noticed that once she texted him he typically texted her earlier ideal away, however if she took even more than a few hours to respond his next message would certainly constantly be brief and wouldn’t include a question, so it was approximately her to re-initiate the conversation, which she constantly did. A few times, she acquired distracted for a day or so and wondered if the exreadjust would certainly die out altogether, however then she’d think of something funny to tell him or she’d watch a photo on the Internet that was appropriate to their conversation, and also they’d begin up again. She still didn’t understand much about him, bereason they never before talked around anything personal, however once they landed two or 3 great jokes in a row there was a kind of exhilaration to it, as if they were dancing.

Then, one night during analysis duration, she was complaining around exactly how all the dining halls were closed and also there was no food in her room bereason her roommate had actually raided her treatment package, and he available to buy her some Red Vines to sustain her. At first, she deflected this through an additional joke, because she really did have to examine, yet he shelp, “No, I’m significant, sheight fooling about and also come now,” so she put a jacket over her pajamas and met him at the 7-Eleven.

It was around elalso o’clock. He greeted her without ceremony, as though he witnessed her eextremely day, and took her inside to pick some snacks. The keep didn’t have actually Red Vines, so he bought her a Cherry Coke Slurpee and a bag of Doritos and also a novelty lighter shaped like a frog with a cigarette in its mouth.

“Thank you for my presents,” she shelp, once they were back exterior. Robert was wearing a rabbit-fur hat that came down over his ears and a thick, old-fashioned dvery own jacket. She thought it was an excellent look for him, if a tiny dorky; the hat heightened his lumberjack aura, and also the hefty coat hid his belly and also the slightly sad slump of his shoulders.

“You’re welcome, concession-stand also girl,” he shelp, though of course he kbrand-new her name by then. She thought he was going to go in for a kiss and also ready to duck and market him her cheek, however instead of kissing her on the mouth he took her by the arm and kissed her gently on the forehead, as though she were something valuable. “Study tough, sweetheart,” he said. “I will check out you shortly.”

On the walk back to her dorm, she was filled through a sparkly lightness that she recognized as the sign of an incipient crush.

While she was residence over break, they texted virtually non-sheight, not just jokes but bit updates around their days. They began saying great morning and great night, and when she asked him a question and he didn’t respond best amethod she felt a jab of anxious yearning. She learned that Robert had actually two cats, named Mu and Yan, and also together they invented a complex scenario in which her childhood cat, Pita, would certainly sfinish flirtatious messages to Yan, however whenever Pita talked to Mu she was formal and also cold, bereason she was jealous of Mu’s connection through Yan.

“Why are you texting all the time?” Margot’s stepdad asked her at dinner. “Are you having actually an affair through someone?”

“Yes,” Margot shelp. “His name is Robert, and also I met him at the movie theatre. We’re in love, and we’re probably going to get married.”

“Hmm,” her stepdad said. “Tell him we have some concerns for him.”

“My parental fees are asking about u,” Maracquired texted, and also Robert sent out her ago a smiley-face emoji whose eyes were hearts.

When Margot returned to campus, she was eager to view Robert again, but he turned out to be surprisingly difficult to pin down. “Sorry, busy week at work-related,” he replied. “I promise I will c u quickly.” Margot didn’t prefer this; it felt as if the dynamic had actually shifted out of her favor, and as soon as eventually he did ask her to go to a movie she agreed right away.

The movie he wanted to check out was playing at the theatre where she worked, however she argued that they view it at the massive multiplex simply external town instead; students didn’t go there incredibly regularly, bereason you required to drive. Robert involved pick her up in a muddy white Civic via candy wrappers spilling out of the cup holders. On the drive, he was quieter than she’d meant, and also he didn’t look at her very much. Before 5 minutes had gone by, she ended up being wildly uncomfortable, and also, as they gained on the highway, it developed to her that he might take her somelocation and rape and also murder her; she hardly knew anything around him, after all.

Just as she assumed this, he sassist, “Don’t concern, I’m not going to murder you,” and she wondered if the discomfort in the auto was her fault, bereason she was acting jumpy and nervous, prefer the sort of girl that thought she was going to gain murdered every time she went on a day.

“It’s O.K.—you can murder me if you want,” she sassist, and also he laughed and patted her knee. But he was still disconcertingly quiet, and also all her bubbling attempts at making conversation bounced right off him. At the theatre, he made a joke to the cashier at the concession stand around Red Vines, which fell level in a method that embarrassed everyone connected, but Marobtained a lot of of all.

During the movie, he didn’t organize her hand or put his arm about her, so by the time they were ago in the parking lot she was pretty certain that he had adjusted his mind around liking her. She was wearing leggings and a sweatshirt, and also that can have been the difficulty. When she obtained into the automobile, he’d said, “Glad to check out you dressed up for me,” which she’d assumed was a joke, however probably she actually had actually offended him by not seeming to take the date seriously enough, or something. He was wearing khakis and a button-down shirt.

“Once I begin composing a poem, I can’t sheight.”

“We could go acquire a drink, I guess?” she sassist.

“If you desire,” he sassist.

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“If you want” was such an unpleasant response that she sat silently in the car till he poked her leg and shelp, “What are you sulking about?”

“I’m not sulking,” she sassist. “I’m simply a small tired.”

“I deserve to take you residence.”

“No, I could usage a drink, after that movie.” Even though it had actually been playing at the mainstream theatre, the film he’d liked was a very depressing drama about the Holocaust, so incorrect for a very first date that as soon as he argued it she said, “Lol r u major,” and also he made some joke about just how he was sorry that he’d misjudged her taste and also he might take her to a romantic comedy instead.