I wish he'd stop doing that..
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by KJ Hannah Greenberg


Jagger tried to remove a clot of accumulated, dried mucus from his nose. He thought, by placing his other hand over his face, he was being surreptitious.

Maybell laughed. When boys communicated, they did so wordlessly. Jagger was no exception; he tried to look cool, but was as sophisticated as her little brother, Alan. At least Alan didn’t pretend to be doing something else when he went face fishing.

Jagger wiped both hands on his napkin, which he then kneaded into a ball and bounced onto the table.

Maybell took a sip of her coffee. The hot milk element in her cappuccino had long since cooled and the pretty clouds that had earlier arranged themselves into an artful heart had long since melded into a single layer of froth.

Jagger twirled the straw in his iced coffee. His sister, Hilzarie, had told him to stop wasting his money on Maybell. Hilza had taken it upon herself to sit him down, among her circle of ashtrays and tawdry magazines, to talk about how Maybell was using him.

“She’s giving you mixed messages,” Hilza had said.

“That’s okay. I like her,” had been Jagger’s lone reply.

He looked over his straw at the girl who would not allow herself to be more than a “friend” and nodded in silent agreement with his older sister. It was lame to be going out, for more than three years, with a girl who refused to “date” him.

When Jagger wasn’t popping pimples or pulling strands of his lusciously long hair in and out of his mouth, Maybell enjoyed looking at him. Sure, his nose was crooked and he had that scar under his eye, but he was a manly eyeful. She wondered why he didn’t pursue her.

Sarabeth, her mom, had never spoken of Richard’s wooing. Maybell had figured it was because the two had long been divorced. She had not yet learned that her mom had had to chase her dad.

She looked again at her fogged mug and deliberated. Surely, Jagger was smart enough to realize she was always keying their conversations. It made no sense to her that he believed she wanted them to remain platonic. Even a boy couldn’t be that dense.

In every instance, before they got together, she carefully applied her makeup, spritzed herself with her best perfume and selected clothes that accentuated what she considered were her best features. She spoke in her cheerful voice, too, on purpose. Jagger might be uncouth, but he was neither deaf nor blind.

Maybell batted her eyelashes, dipped her pinky in her drink and licked the lukewarm liquid off. She supposed, based on television, books, and movies, that that was how women flirted.

Jagger stirred his cold drink some more.

Frustrated, Maybell leaned over to grab for the bill the waitress had unceremoniously dropped on their table. It was time to go home.

As she leaned, Jagger’s eyes widened. Maybell’s shirt was generously scooped.

Maybell put her debit card on top of the bill. “My turn,” she trilled.

Jagger eyed her neckline once more and shrugged. He returned to stirring his drink. Little by little all of the ice crystals within it had melted. They had been in the coffee shop for nearly two hours.

He thought about reaching his hand toward Maybell’s, but remembered Hilza’s words. He sat up straight and uncrossed his legs. He would not meet his lady love again for coffee or for anything else. He was not going to continue to be played the fool.

After the receipt came, Jagger stood up and put on his sunglasses. He was not tall, but in those shades, to Maybell, he looked dark and handsome.

Maybell sighed. She could overlook his height. She could overlook his nostril farming. She could not, however, overlook his lack of passion. He never bought her flowers. He never composed poems to her, discounting the one he had passed to her on the backside of a failed algebra quiz, years ago.

Worse, Jagger never told her she looked lovely. Maybell knew she looked lovely. Stevie and Wren hit on her all of the time.

As she stood up, she imagined what it would be like if Jagger bound up to her, grabbed her tightly and planted a sloppy one on her lips. She was sure it would be sloppy as she doubted that he met with other girls and as she knew she had never kissed him. For that matter, despite all of her flirting with the guys who shared her bus and with the fellows in her calculus class, she, too, had never kissed.

Maybell shook her head to clear it. Jagger was muttering something.

“…so that’s it. It was nice while it lasted. I gotta think of me now.”


“Adiós. Adieu. Tschüss. Hejdå.”

“Since when did you speak Swedish?”

“Since when did you care?”


“Nice. Well, buy yourself another goldfish or adopt a puppy.”

“See you Monday, then, same place, same time?”

“You weren’t listening.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“Why are you so rude to me?”

“Stuck in thoughts.”

“While talking to me?”

“Only when talking to you.”


“This…” Maybell leaned in toward Jagger. She grazed his forehead with her lips, having forgotten their height difference.

He smiled as her bosom pressed against his chin.

Maybell cleared her throat and leaned down a tad.

Jagger smiled a lot more. Their kiss, though, as predicted, was messy.

Fifty years later, he leaned in toward his wife. It was not so much that he had caught up to her in size as she had shrunk a bit. He planted a perfect pucker on her. His kiss was neither too wet nor too dry, to hard or too soft. Jagger was masterful at pleasing her.

Maybell smiled. Thereafter, she pushed her husband a bit away from her and pointed out to him the grandchild of theirs that was descending head first on the slide he had built.




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