EPILOGUE

"Powdered Donut"

On the ride home, Avery was getting hungry, and he asked the cab driver to drop him off at the next street corner. He didn't know where he was, but he was past the point of caring. He just wanted out.

After handing the driver most of his money and stepping well inside the curb, he checked his wallet to find that he had enough for a snack, but not for much else. As he scanned the street corner for adjacent shops or eateries, the best he could find was a cheap café where pastries were sold. He went inside and ordered a powdered donut.

While he sat at the table, munching on his donut, staring out the shop window to watch all of the well-dressed zombies walking by and marching off to whatever lies they thought were true, Avery heard the door chime. At first, he gave it no attention. But, when he heard a melodious voice fill his ears, he glanced over to find a petite blonde in a violet dress at the counter ordering a coffee. He suddenly didn't care what was happening outside the window.

"Cream and sugar," she told the barista. "Just a pump, with a dash of caramel and cinnamon."

The way she said caramel, she may as well have been saying butter. Care-a-mel, with her tongue emphasizing the el. And her voice was operatic, angelic even, like a prolonged whistle ringed from the depths of an ornate vase. He wondered if she were the type of woman who sang in the shower.

On closer inspection, he could see that she wore no bands of any kind around her fingers. Her hands were naked.

While she waited, she scanned the counter for other items, but she made no effort to check the area behind her. Avery was content with her ignorance of him initially, for keeping her back to him meant allowing him more time to admire the curves of her calves and the shapeliness of all that rested above her thighs. But he decided he wanted her attention, and he was tired of missing out. So, without waiting for an introduction, or planning for any particular intelligent action, he grunted, leaned hard to the side, and fell to the floor.

The woman got her coffee and headed for the door. She didn't notice Avery lying there just a few feet off from her travel path. She was too busy wiping the side of her cup with her tongue.

He couldn't believe she failed to notice. This would not stand yet again. He had to call her out.

"Hey," he said to her.

As she reached the door, she glanced in his direction.

"Yeah, you," he said.

She turned to face him. Her left knee went up slightly as her foot gently crossed over the other. Her toes began to tap. Given the thinness of her lips, it seemed she didn't have much patience for his outburst.

"Did you need something?" she asked.

"Er, yeah. I'm on the floor."

She shrugged.

"Is that not normal for you?"

"No."

She approached the nearest table and set her coffee down.

"So, what do you want me to do about it?"

"Um, you could help me up."

"Are you sick?"

"No."

"Did you have a seizure?"

Avery didn't understand the point of all these questions.

"I'm on the floor. Does it matter?"

"Well, you were sitting at the table a moment ago, perfectly healthy."

"Does that matter?"

"Depends on whether you're faking for attention. If so, then yes."

Avery picked himself off the floor and brushed his legs. The powdered donut was still in his hand, so he was careful not to get sugar all over his knees.

"Why would I do something like that?"

She shrugged.

"Habit maybe? Desperation? I don't know. Some dude is always doing stuff like that around me. Figured you're doing the same."

Avery shook his head.

"You assume too much," he said.

"Am I? You're standing now."

Avery looked at his feet. He was standing. Crap.

"Okay, fine. You're beautiful, and I want to meet you, and I'm tired of not meeting women like you. So yeah, I faked it. So what? Happy?"

The woman smirked at him.

"Ah, honesty. Finally. You're the first to admit it this week. I'm impressed."

"Impressed enough to have dinner with me?"

At first he didn't know what had just come over him to ask her such a bold question. But, he figured it out in the same split-second he questioned it. He was tired of playing it safe. He'd always try to meet women through innocent methods, the kinds that would free him from awkwardness if rejection were inevitable. But, he didn't want to bother with that this time. She was here, and her cellphone was nowhere in sight. Better to get his intentions out of the way now. At least that way he wouldn't have to prolong the disappointment if she told him to screw off.

She wasn't responding, though. She imply stared at him, studying his face. He didn't like that. She was putting too much thought into his question. This was no time for pondering.

"Well?" he demanded.

Of course, he'd forgotten that he'd spent all of his money on the donut and cab fare, and maybe he was the one who should've been thinking this through better. But he wasn't about to let that stop him from taking a chance on her. If she said no, then he would be crushed, and it wouldn't matter how much money he did or didn't have. If she said yes, however, he hoped she'd be cool with sharing a bag of lettuce and whatever leftovers he could find at the frat house….

Suddenly, this whole thing seemed like a bad idea. But those legs….

She cocked her head to the side, sizing him up. Her eyes flicked up and down his body, as if he were a mannequin in a window display wearing today's top trends. Then she shrugged.

"I guess. What's your name?"

"Avery."

She grabbed her coffee off the table and headed for the door.

"Hi Avery. I'm Allison. If you can keep up with me, you can date me." As she touched the handle, she looked back and flicked her hair over her shoulder. "You can keep up with me, right?"

Avery wasn't sure how to answer that question.

"Er…"

"Well, what are you waiting for?" she said. "Start walking."

Avery lurched forward, nearly forgetting about the donut that was sprinkling powder all over his pants. It didn't stop him from crushing the rest of it in his palm as he grabbed the door after her.

As he trailed after her down the street, he started singing in his mind. Then he stopped. What did she say her name was?

His lips curled as he thought about that.

But he didn't think about it for long. He was staring at her short skirt rising and falling, admiring the length of her stride. She was everything he ever wanted. He didn't care what her name was. She was the woman of his dreams.

He continued chasing after her, as if the past had no meaning. His Human Obsessions instructor could kiss his butt for all he cared. The world was now perfect.

"I love you, Allison," he said as he ran after her. "I love you more than life itself."

He made sure he kept his declaration of love under his breath. He figured it was better to keep it a secret for the time being. He didn't want her to get the wrong idea about him.

Yes, the world was now perfect. He and Allison would be together forever. He was certain of it.

He was pretty certain of it.

He ate what was left of his powdered donut.

Maybe this could work.

He wiped the leftover sugar on his pants.

He began to wonder if they had anything in common.

He hoped this would work.

Allison looked over her shoulder and raised her eyebrows at him. She must've been checking to see if he was keeping up.

He was.

She smiled.

The world was now perfect.