Underthrow, 17

When Travis came out of the bathroom, he saw Sarah Teague waiting at the counter, wearing a shapeless black tee shirt and blue jeans.

“Short movie,” Travis said without meaning to sound bitter.

“I don’t know what that means,” Sarah said. “I’m picking up food for dinner.” She scribbled on the sandwich order pad and slid it across the counter. “I can’t believe my sister wants food from this place. She’s trying to torture me.”

Behind the counter, Vin had arranged four sliced breads for four sandwiches. “Help me out here,” he said, jabbing his knife toward Travis.

“Didn’t Miles ask you out?” Travis asked. A twinge like yesterday’s upset stomach bubbled under his apron.

Vin let out a low whistle as he opened the oven. Sarah’s eyes narrowed, but her cheeks flushed, which told Travis both that Miles had asked her nothing and that, if Miles were to ask her, she’d say yes.

“Oh,” Travis said, answering himself to kill the silence.

Sarah stared at the chopped lettuce and cleared her throat. “Isn’t Miles usually here on Fridays?” she asked as though the name were being mentioned for the first time. “How much did he take from his dad’s checkbook to get you to cover his last day?”

Travis grabbed the order pad, read Sarah’s tidy handwriting, and assembled a veggie sandwich: lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, black olives, onions, pickle relish. He listed the ingredients in his head, over and over, not because he might forget but because they made better sense than Miles and his non-existent date with Sarah Teague.

He added the pickle relish as Sarah spoke again. “You’re going to Maryland, right?” she asked. “Picked a major yet?”

“I’m not going to college,” Travis said, embarrassed by the decision for the first time. He forced himself not to mumble. “Not for a while, anyway.”

“Well, you’re not staying here,” she said like saying made it true. She leaned over the counter and smiled. “I can’t believe you and Miles held up so long here. If my parents hadn’t forced me into a job this summer, I wouldn’t have stayed a week.”

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