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Sandwich, Love, Etc.

Steve Cushman

I was eating lunch at Markee’s sandwich shop, up on 19th, when this girl came in and sat across from me. Cute enough, though I’d never been particularly attracted to blondes. She wore a pink Meat Puppets T-shirt, a Lakers hat, and sat down so quickly I couldn’t tell you what sort of shorts or pants she wore. 


“Are you Roger?” she asked. 


"No,” I said. 


She looked back and forth, curled her lower lip, just so, and said, “Whatever, you’re probably messing with me.” 


The waitress came over and took her order: ham and cheese, extra mustard, and Cherry Coke. 


“Who are you?” I asked. 


“You’re next girlfriend, silly,” she said. 


I remembered my sister telling me years ago, when the two of us were teenagers hiding out in my tree house, that love comes at the strangest time and your job is to notice and hold on when it shows. 


I was about to ask her where she was from, what sort of music and movies she liked, when this tall, long-haired dude walked up and said to her, “Are you Zoey?” 


“Roger?” she asked. 


He nodded. She shook her head, looked at me, and said, “That was close.” 


The two of them left me alone where I finished my pastrami on rye, reminded myself to keep an eye out for the next one. Outside it looked like rain as I watched Zoey and Roger drive away in his convertible red Porsche. I hoped they didn’t get wet, but, hell, you never know how these things will work out. 




Steve Cushman has published two poetry chapbooks, and his first full-length collection, How Birds Fly, won the 2018 Lena Shull Book award. A new collection, Eating Paradise Without You, is forthcoming from Unicorn Press in 2023. Cushman lives in North Carolina, and works in the IT department at Cone Health.

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