Today's Reading

Wednesday, May 1
108 Days Until I Can Leave

Some people are natural storytellers. They know how to set the scene, find the right angle, when to pause for dramatic effect or breeze past inconvenient details.

I wouldn't have become a librarian if I didn't love stories, but I've never been great at telling my own.

If I had a penny for every time I interrupted my own anecdote to debate whether this actually had happened on a Tuesday, or if it had in fact been Thursday, then I'd have at least forty cents, and that's way too big a chunk of my life wasted for way too small of a payout.

Peter, on the other hand, would have zero cents and a rapt audience.

I especially loved the way he told our story, about the day we met.

It was late spring, three years ago. We lived in Richmond at the time, a mere five blocks separating his sleek apartment in a renovated Italianate from my shabby-not-quite-chic version of the same kind of place.

On my way home from work, I detoured through the park, which I never did, but the weather was perfect. And I was wearing a floppy-brimmed hat, which I never had, but Mom mailed it to me the week before, and I felt like I owed it to her to at least try it out. I was reading as I walked-which I'd vowed to stop doing because I'd nearly caused a bike accident doing so weeks earlier—when suddenly, a warm breeze caught the hat's brim. It lifted off my head and swooped over an azalea bush. Right to a tall, handsome blond man's feet.

Peter said this felt like an invitation. Laughed, almost self-deprecatingly, as he added, "I'd never believed in fate before that."

If it 'was' fate, then it's reasonable to assume fate a little bit hates me, because when he bent to retrieve the hat, another gust swept it into the air, and I chased after it right into a trash can.

The metal kind, bolted to the ground.

My hat landed atop a pile of discarded lo mein, the lip of the can smashed into my rib cage, and I did a wheezing pratfall into the grass. Peter described this as "adorably clumsy."

He left out the part where I screamed a string of expletives.

"I fell in love with Daphne the moment I looked up from her hat," he'd say, no mention of the trash-noodles in my hair.

When he asked if I was okay, I said, "Did I kill a bicyclist?"

He thought I'd hit my head. (Nope, just bad at first impressions.)

Over the last three years, Peter dusted off Our Story every chance he got. I was sure he'd work it into both our vows and his wedding reception speech.

But then his bachelor party happened, and everything changed.

The story tipped onto its side. Found a fresh point of view. And in this new telling of it, I was no longer the leading lady, but instead the teensy complication that would forever be used to jazz up their story.

Daphne Vincent, the librarian that Peter plucked out of the trash, nearly married, then dumped the morning after his bachelor party for his "platonic" "best" "friend," Petra Comer.

Then again, when would he even need to tell their story?

Everyone around Peter Collins and Petra Comer knew their history: How they'd met in third grade when forced into alphabetical seating, bonding over a shared love of Pokémon. How, soon after, their mothers became friends while chaperoning an aquarium field trip, with their fathers to follow suit.

For the last quarter of a century, the Collinses and the Comers vacationed together. They celebrated birthdays, ate Christmas brunches, decorated their homes with handmade picture frames from which Peter's and Petra's faces beamed out beneath some iteration of the phrase BEST FRIENDS FOREVER.

This, Peter told me, made him and the most gorgeous woman I'd ever met more like cousins than friends.

As a librarian, I really should've taken a moment to think about Mansfield Park or Wuthering Heights, all those love stories and twisted Gothics wherein two protagonists, raised side by side, reach adulthood and proclaim their undying love for each other.

But I didn't.

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