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True Grit

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“I'm so tired, B," I leaned onto her, pushing her against the wall. I was just about ready to clock out from the stress of the past few days. "When can we go to bed?"

“When we find a place to crash.” Bullet supported me until I regained my balance and I could walk again.

“Let’s just crash here,” I gestured to the sidewalk below us with a mall smile. My words were starting to run together. Another might have thought me drunk, but Bullet knew well enough that I didn’t drink. Never had. The smell reminded me of things I wanted to forget. She understood, and that was one reason we’d started to hang together - it was hard to find someone with the same lack of interests.

“We can’t just sleep here, yo!” She laughed.

“Looks pretty comfy to me,” I shrugged, following her down the pavement.

“You’re crazy.”

I almost said something entirely regrettable, but I wasn’t quite that tired yet. I’d never actually gotten to that point since coming to Seattle. The point where all I did was say things I really shouldn’t be saying. Like “you have the cutest face in the whole world.” Or “I’d bite your bullet any day.” Bad things, very bad ideas.

“C’mon,” she grabbed my hand and pulled me down one last block until we stood in front of the brightest fluorescent lights in the entire world. “We’ll hang out here a while. You can take a nap, and I’ll just get a coffee or somethin’ to keep ‘em off our ass, yeah?”

She led me to a booth, and the smell of waffles hit me like freight train. I was hungrier than I was tired because once I smelled those waffles, I was not sleeping. I noticed too much when she rested her arm on the booth behind me.

I dug around in my bag’s pocket for a few bills and managed to get nearly ten dollars and change onto the table before Bullet began to protest. At least, before I heard her start to protest. She’d probably been protesting since I sat down.

“No, no, no, no, no,” she was saying, shoving my money back into my bag. “This one’s on me.”

“Bullet, I can pay for my own food,” my pronunciation hadn’t improved in the past five minutes.

“Uh-uh.” A shake of her head, and I knew it wasn’t worth the energy. I’d just pay for her next time or something. It occurred to me that she never suggested I couldn’t pay for my own food, but she was simply offering to pay for me. Was this a date? Is this what dates are?

I ordered, and Bullet just got a cup of something warm. I felt bad that she wasn’t eating, so I asked for an extra plate and moved some of my food onto it before sliding it to her.

“Eat.” I nodded to the food I’d placed before her.

A scrambled egg with cheese, a few slices of toast, half a chocolate chip waffle, and all the bacon lay before her. She shook her head, and my stomach growled. “I’m not eating unless you’re eating. You need to take care of yourself, too.”

“Fine. Don’t I get any of those?” She pointed at my grits.

“Dude.” I stopped what I was doing to look at her square in the face. “You did not just ask me to share my grits.”

“What’s a grit?” She asked through a mouth full of food.

I heaved a sigh. Northerners. “It’s made of corn.” I scooped some up and held it out for her.

“I thought you weren’t sharing,” she smirked.

“This is out of my hands,” I told her. “You’ve never had grits. It would be a crime to keep them to myself given you’ve never had them.” I didn’t know how to explain that this was about life, and life without grits was no life at all. I was introducing her to the world.

She raised an eyebrow, but ate the grits. I waited expectantly.

“You can keep that,” Bullet shook her head from side to side, sticking her tongue out.

My jaw dropped. I took a deep breath and returned to my grits. More for me, I tried to tell myself. But all I was really thinking was, how the fuck do you not like grits?