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True Value Hardware:

He fell in love the summer he spent as an intern for the ranch manager’s job, fell in love with someone entirely inappropriate, too strong for him, too wild for him, and possibly someone who would have made him very happy.

They spent the whole summer sweating and swimming, it seemed, but he also remembered the crisp taste of Heineken out of a can and how her legs were never tan.

He went back to college thinking she would make him happy, but she was wiser than he and dumped him by Christmas so he got engaged by Easter to someone entirely appropriate in shades of dove gray and vanilla bean.

He berates himself as he stands behind the Stihl power tools in the hardware store because he just saw her for the first time in a long time, and because he is a grown man now, not a silly college boy, and though he once loved her, surely now he can go up to Katy and say hello, no matter that he knows her intimate smell or that she once pulled hard on a fistful of his hair with her head thrown back and her eyes closed.

He braved the front of the store where the smell changed from hard new plastic and grease to potting soil and Miracle Grow, completely forgetting what he came in for, and said hello as if he had just discovered her.

In a perfect world they’d have gone and had coffee, laughing at any awkwardness, re-establishing the ties of friendship without sex, but there are no perfect worlds to be had on the shelves of True Value.

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