Leaving Memphis

A Short Short Story

by Lauren Birden

You see her first in the Memphis bus station on a two-hour layover. You pretend you haven’t because she looks ready to talk. “Stonewashed jeans,” you think, watching her tap her platform sandals at the front of the boarding line. When she turns around, catches you staring, you pull your lips tight and stare at the floor in front of her. She starts toward you anyway. She plops down in the hard plastic seat next to you, moving her purse to her lap, its tail of beaded lanyard clacking. You motion to your open novel and shrug as if to say, “Page ninety-eight, can’t stop now,” but she asks, “Where you from?” and now you can’t shake her.

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