A shiver ran up Selena's spine as sweat dripped down her face. She stared intently at the book propped upon her knee as she sat upon the flower-patterned sofa she had inherited from her grandmother six years ago today. As she leaned forward, narrowing her eyes to read more carefully in the light cast by the brass floor lamp, her light green blouse came a little untucked from her light-washed jeans. Tucking a lock of her sandy hair behind her ear, she glanced around the room, noting the muted TV showing CNN, the "flip-flop" style sandals sitting by the door leading outside, and the pair of slippers she wore around the apartment, which were lying upside-down on her tasteful rug because she had kicked them off before settling down to read. As she leaned back again, her hair fell over her face once more. She reached up to push it back into place just as her old friend Todd knocked at the door. . .
Selena jumped at the sound of someone pounding on her door, and the book slid off her knees and fell to the floor, where it lay closed on its cover. She stared at it, then suddenly realized that her hand was indeed pushing back the troublesome lock of hair. She let her hand drop, then jumped again as the pounding on the door returned. Leaving the book where it lay, she called that she was coming, stood up, turned over her slippers and put them on, and crossed the room, tucking her blouse back into her jeans as she went. When she reached the door, it occurred to her what she had just done, and she glanced down at her favorite green blouse. She stood there disconsolately for a moment, then shook herself and opened the door. Standing there, as she had more than half-feared, was her friend Todd, his dark hair sticking up in all directions as usual above his sweet, trusting brown eyes. She always thought he looked like a lost puppy, and often told him so, but just at that moment she was still unnerved and the old joke was far from her mind. She simply stared at him for a moment, until he looked confused.
She gave a start, then shook her head slightly, "Sorry, sorry, come in," she said, stepping aside to let him in. "What brings you here?" she asked as she shut the door behind him.
He glanced back at her from the table, where he had just set down a large, brown paper bag. "What is this, a bad joke? It's Tuesday," he told her.
"Tuesday...?" Her voice was faint, confused.
He stared. "Yes, Selena, Tuesday," he told her, coming back across the room to peer into her eyes. "I brought some Chinese food so we could hang out. Just like every Tuesday. Are you feeling okay?"
Finally, she snapped out of her funk, shaking her head once more, to clear it. "Fine, fine," she said, her voice returning to its usual speed. "Sorry, I was reading a weird book, and I lost track of things. I'm okay, really," she added, when he looked skeptical.
He leaned even closer, then used his thumbs to gently pull down the lower eyelids and examine her sclera. After a moment, he seemed satisfied, because his thumbs suddenly pinched each of her cheeks instead. He laughed as she sputtered and knocked his hands away. She scowled at him, but he just laughed all the harder, and after a moment she found she was laughing too. Somehow, he always managed to do that to her, even when she was determined to be angry with him.
He sat back down at her table, and she was about to join him when the book on the rug caught her eye. She picked it up and glanced at the cover briefly. Chronicle. She laid it on the endtable, then tried unsuccessfully to push it out of her mind as she sat down across from Todd.
He was right, of course, she thought as he passed her food across the table, she had been expecting him. There was nothing suspicious behind his presence. They had dinner every Tuesday. It wasn't because of the book. Nothing was because of the book. It couldn't be; it was just a book. She was being silly, she told herself firmly, as she glanced around the room, her eyes taking in the muted TV, the flip-flops, and the sofa she had inherited from Nana upon her death, exactly six years ago... She froze, realizing what she was thinking, and told herself still more firmly that she was being ridiculous.