The Opportunist
Author:Tarryn Fisher

“What are you doing here?” The words tumble from my mouth before I can stop them.


He laughs. “I’m not stalking you, I swear. Actually, I wanted to thank you for the music suggestion in the store the other day. I liked it—a lot actually.” His hands are in his pockets and he is bouncing up and down on his heels.


“Wine,” he says, spinning his thumb ring with his forefinger. He used to do that when he was nervous.


I stare at him blankly.


“You asked me what I was doing here,” he says patiently, as though he were speaking to a child. “My girlfriend likes this wine and one can only get it here…Organic.” The last word makes him laugh.


Girlfriend? I narrow my eyes. How is it that he remembers her and not me?


“So,” I say casually, opening one of the coolers and grabbing the first thing I see, “You remember your girlfriend?” I was trying to sound nonchalant, but I couldn’t have sounded more strangled if he had his hands around my throat.


“No, after the accident—I didn’t remember her.”


I feel a little bit better.


I immediately think back to the first time I set my blues on her, three years ago when I was performing the ritual of post breakup spying. I decided that I needed to see my replacement for closure. It was crazy really, but we are all entitled to a little bit of stalking.


I wore my grandmother’s red derby hat because it had a ridiculously wide rim that would hide my face, and it was as melodramatic as my personality. I took Pickles for support.


Leah Smith. That was the little beast’s name. She was as rich as I was poor, as happy as I was miserable, as redheaded as I was dark. He met her at some swanky party about a year after we broke up. Apparently, they hit it off right away, or maybe he hit it right away, I can’t be sure.


Leah worked in an office building ten minutes from my apartment. By the time I slid my car into a parking spot, I had an hour to spare before her shift was over. I spent it convincing myself that my behavior was normal.


Leah walked out of the building at exactly five after six with a Prada purse swinging cheerfully on her forearm. She walked like a woman who knew she had the world staring at her breasts. I watched her clip clop along the sidewalk in her green stilettos, while strangling the steering wheel. I hated her long red hair that hung in fat curls down her back. I hated the way she waved goodbye to her co-workers with a tinkling of her fingertips. I hated the fact that I liked her shoes.


Searching his eyes for answers, and trying to get my head out of the past, I ask, “So what—you guys are still together even though you don’t know who she is?”


I expect him to be defensive, but instead he slyly smiles. “She’s really torn up over the whole thing and is a great girl to stick with me through all of this.” He doesn’t look at me when he says “this”.


Like any girl, in her right mind, would let him get away—except me of course—but I have never claimed to be in my right mind.


“Would you like to grab a cup of coffee?” he asks. “I can fill you in on my whole sob story.”


I feel a tingle start at my feet and work its way up my body. If he remembered anything about me, this would not be happening. It was crazy—exactly the type of situation that I could completely take advantage of.


“I can’t.” I feel so proud of myself that I stand up a little taller. He takes my response the same way he’d taken all of my rejections over the years we dated, smiling like I couldn’t possibly be serious.


“Yes, you can. Think of it as a favor to me.”


I cock my head.


“I need some new friends—good influences.”


My mouth opens, and lets out an extended Pffffffffing sound.


Caleb raises an eyebrow.


“I’m not a good influence,” I say, blinking rapidly.


I shift from one foot to the other, distracting myself with a bottle of maraschino cherries. I could grab the bottle, toss it at his head and run, or I could go get coffee with him. It was only coffee after all. Not sex, not a relationship, just some friendly gabber between two people who supposedly didn’t know each other.


“Okay, coffee.” I hear the excitement in my voice and cringe. I. Am. Disgusting.


“Good,” he smiles.


“There’s a coffee shop two blocks from here on the northwest corner. I can meet you there in thirty minutes,” I say, calculating the time it would take for me to get home and de-slobbify. Say you can’t make it. Say you have other things to do……


“Thirty minutes,” he repeats, watching my lips. I purse them for effect and Caleb ducks his head to hide a smile. I turn and walk calmly down the aisle. I can feel his eyes on my back, making me tingle.