Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

Rarer Than Bigfoot pt4

Marissa slowly pulled into the space, opening the door to make sure she was within the lines, before finally parking her Elantra. The last time she had parked in this lot, she hadn’t bother checking her parking job and was kindly rewarded with a bit of scratched up paint. She didn’t know what had bothered her more, that there hadn’t been a note left, or that it had been a hot pink car that had done the damage. Tacky, she had thought.

Retrieving her book from the passenger seat she stepped out of the car and set off down the bit of cement leading into the park. It wasn’t a bad day so far, and the weather was nice enough that all she needed was a light jacket to sit comfortably in the shade and enjoy the breeze with the latest volume she had just purchased. Reading in bed was usually her m.o. but she didn’t want to go home just yet and the odds of a crowded park at this time of day in the middle of the week were slim to none.

She found a tree that wasn’t in the center of a hill of mud, and managed to maneuver herself into a comfortable position sitting on some of the roots. Should have brought a blanket, she thought, feeling a bit of moisture seep into her jeans. Though that would have required planning instead of this spur of the moment field trip, and if she had gone home she wouldn’t have left the house for the rest of the day. It was a pattern she was trying to change, or at least avoid.

Cracking open the paper back, she found where she had left off and continued the hilariously ridiculous storyline within its binding. She wasn’t sure what it was about the manga story structure that she found so comforting and enjoyable, but she didn’t question it anymore. This wasn’t junior high. She could read whatever she wanted, whenever and wherever she reminded herself. It’s not like anyone knew her here anyway.

“Marissa?”

She looked up at the sound of her name, and made eye contact with the woman who had just called her name. Maggie?

“Hey.” she half exclaimed, trying not to stare but still wanting to admire how well Maggie’s clothes conformed to her body. It was simple attire, black legggings and a white t-shirt with a pair of large sunglasses for a casual vibe, but it worked well for her.

“What are you doing here?” Maggie asked. “Is it your day off?”

“No-” Marissa replied. “I got done with my share of the work early so they let me take a half day.”

“Oh how cool. So you just decided to get some reading done at the park?”

“Yeah…” Marissa lingered on the word, not so subtly turning the cover of her manga volume away from Maggie. “What about you? Day off?”

Maggie nodded. “Just got done grabbing coffee with- with an old friend” she said, awkwardly waving the Starbucks cup around. “I didn’t have any other plans so I thought I would walk down here and catch some Pokemon.”

“That sounds like a fun afternoon.” Marissa said, not quite making eye contact.

“Hopefully.” Maggie replied.

A silence passed between them.

“Well, enjoy the day. It’s nice out right now.” Maggie finally said.

“Thanks. Uh, you too.”

Maggie made to leave, but rocked back after taking a step.

“You know what, are you hungry? Want to grab lunch around here?”

Marissa’s eyes widened a bit at the invitation.

“Uh, maybe in a little while?” she offered.

“Sure, I’ll go catch some stuff and then we can head out in like twenty minutes?” Maggie asked,

Marissa paused, clearly mulling something over.

“Maybe twenty-five?”

“Sounds good! Start thinking about what you’ll want to eat, because there’s all kinds of restaurants nearby.”

“Um, okay.” Marissa half smiled.

“Okay, I’ll see you in a bit.” Maggie said before continuing down a nearby trail.

Marissa let out a sigh as soon as Maggie was out of sight. That had been a lot harder than she had expected. It’s just lunch, she thought. It’s not like she asked me out or anything. Unless it was one of those weird grey areas where “hanging out” is basically dating, but neither side wants to admit they want to date because making the first move opens you up for rejection and the possibility that you’re reading too much into spending time with someone. She could feel her heart rate begin to spike. Oh my god, she saw the manga volume! It’s fine, it’s fine, you can call it research for something. Say you like the art style if she asks.

Before she knew it, thirty minutes had passed.

“Sorry I’m late.” Maggie said, her flip flops announcing her before she said anything. “Are you ready?”

Marissa looked up at the smiling brunette, the sun and wind catching her hair.

“I think so.”

Carlos Barron