photo by Matt Walker
Barnes & Noble
If you know who I am, tell me what I was reading. The clothes, certainly, you will get correct, as I don't bother with color -- grey shirt, grey shorts, grey shoes -- an ensemble that might remind you of your grandmother's silver collection: the one that she would bring out for special occasions -- Easter, of course, Thanksgiving, once every few years. I know what I was wearing. I know where I was standing: among the magazines, the eyes on the covers paying me no attention. Here is the face of a basketball player. Here is the face of a woman who has lost a considerable amount of weight. I am proud of both of them. I know that I am proud of both of them. I know what I was drinking: a coffee the color of cola: if you thought it was cola, stop -- if you thought it was cola you do not know who I am, you don't know what I was reading. The ice cubes had long since melted -- the water inside of the plastic container matching the condensation on the outside. I would've come over to you, to the table near the window where you sat, but I would have no place to put my drink--it would've left a watery broken ring on the table, and I could not put you through that again: those nights where the boys with their parents bank cards bought you drinks they thought you liked because they were drinks you pretended to like -- they were too red, too sweet, they curled your tongue like a thin paperback in a backpocket, though I would not describe your tongue this way: you know the story of Lennon and Chapman and Salinger and that is something I don't want you to think about: about blood, about The Dakota, about autographs. When I was a child I would write my name on the front inside cover of the book -- this book belongs to. The book I was reading did not have my name in it -- it was not mine, it did not belong to me. Those books my mother read to me before I went to sleep did not belong to me either. I fear that it was too late in the day to be drinking coffee. If you know who I am, you know this. If you know who I am, please tell me what I was reading. Tell me what I was reading so I know it was you.
Brian Oliu is originally from New Jersey and currently lives in Alabama. His work is published/forthcoming in Hotel Amerika, Caketrain, Hobart, Sonora Review, Ninth Letter, New Ohio Review, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere.