Illustration by Isabel Garcia.


did you know that it takes exactly 472 steps to get from my apartment building to the grocery store where She works—She being the one who works the register, She being something soft-lipped and soft-voiced and soft-hipped?

i am there almost every day, sometimes twice a day (but only when i’m feeling particularly sociable). if you really wanted, i could show you the little gold card’s transaction history, or the shopping bags that i’ve used when i’ve forgotten my own, or just wanted another remnant of Her.

today, i have decided to dress up for Her. i bought a new pair of burgundy corduroys and sturdy loafers, the kind with tassels on them. i hope She likes the kind with tassels on them. i still have the receipt, just in case something goes awry and i don’t want to have to see those dirty leftovers hanging in my closet.

i am 400 steps exactly. counting gives me some semblance of certainty, especially because the people around me aren’t as predictable as i’d like them to be. sometimes i walk my dog along this route, stopping by the grocery store to watch Her (if She’s there). one time i got so close to the window that i fogged up the glass. it was quite embarrassing.

i am 470 steps, or in layman’s terms, on the top stair. the door feels frozen against my already-cold hands. its opening makes that sssssssttt sound, the one that you’d imagine some sort of antiquated librarian making, or freshly-laundered clothes sweeping against each other when you’re making the bed.

She’s behind the counter She’s behind the counter She painted her nails indigo and Her hair is violet and i’d forgotten and i’m looking at Her for too long i hope She doesn’t notice and

i am 442 steps back home. ♦