Originally submitted to, and rejected by, Taco Bell Quarterly
Sunlight dappled the tile floor outside the restrooms. In one of the booths sat the girl. She was looking at her phone when the boy slid into the seat opposite her.
“Baby,” he said. “You are exactly what my eyes needed right now.”
“You came all this way to tell me that?” she said.
“Hell yeah I did. Took two buses and then stole some kid’s Razr scooter for the last half mile. Uphill, too. I am wrecked.”
“I’m on my break. And I’m the only one here who knows how to make the cinnamon twists.”
“Fine, fine, but can I get a free drink first?” he said.
“No. My boss is here,” said the girl.
“Okay. Well I’m going to get us one. I’ll pay.”
He returned a short time later with an extra large soda. He took a sip, and then she did.
“What kind of soda is this?” she said.
“I mixed them all together. Like a cocktail.”
“That’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for me.”
“All caffeine-free, too. We don’t want a baby that’s all jittery.”
“I’m willing to take my chances,” said the girl. She took another sip.
He looked at a poster inside a glass case on the wall. “What’s that?” he said.
“Gordita. You’re my gordita”
“Doesn’t ‘gordo’ mean fat? So a gordita is a little fatty?”
“A little fat lady. It’s feminine,” the girl said.
“Which do you think we’re having? A gordito or a gordita?”
“It’s a boy. I’m sure of it.”
“Really? How do you know?”
“I just do.”
He took a sip of soda. “We could still go to New Mexico,” he said.
“And destroy our little gordito? How dare you.”
“I’m serious. We still could. My uncle could lend us his car.”
“Your uncle is a pederast and his car is a piece of shit.”
“You could go to college. Be an architect or whatever.”
“An interior architect. It’s different.”
“An interior architect,” he repeated. “We can go to New Mexico, and then you could go to school and be an interior architect.”
“And you could join the circus. Catch cannonballs with your stomach. Marry the bearded lady.”
“You’re the only bearded lady I want.”
“There are a lot of beards in the sea.”
“What are you saying?” he said.
“You don’t have to do this.”
“Who’s pretending?” He sipped his drink. “I got a job,” he said.
“Selling knives. They’re from Japan and they slice like magic and they never get dull. You can cut open a beer can and then peel a tomato like’s it’s nothing. These knives are Bad. Ass.”
“You got a job at a knife store?”
“No, no—I’m working for myself. I’m an entrepreneur. As soon as I save up $400 I can get my first set. But they sell for $800. Double your money. Then double that. Then I’m getting a car. Probably a Mazda or a Nissan. I haven’t decided yet.”
“That’s awesome. Congrats.”
She looked at the time on her phone. “I have to get back to work.”
“Can I pick you up when you get off? I’ll borrow my uncle’s car.”
“Okay. Excellent. I’ll be here. See you then?”
“See you then.”
“I’ll be here,” he said.
He watched her slide from under the table with difficulty. She put one hand on her back and walked slowly to make the cinnamon twists.
Noah Masterson is the director of the short film DEEP FREEZE, a comedy about dying miserable and alone.