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Love In The Stacks

by Lisa Lim

Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition.

This short story is a work of fiction. Names,characters, places and incidents either are the product of theauthor’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance toactual persons, living or dead, events or locales is purelycoincidental and not intended by the author.


“There is more to sex appeal thanjust measurements. I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness.I can convey just as much sex appeal, picking apples off a tree orstanding in the rain.”

~ Audrey Hepburn

Sacré bleu! If Audrey Hepburnwere still alive, she’d blanch!

Keeping half an ear turned to theconversation transpiring two feet in front of me, I caught somesnippets.

A Victoria’s Secret sales girl was asking acustomer, “Sir, what size would you like this negligee in?”

“Oh the size doesn’t matter at all,” repliedthe bald man with Buddha tits. “My girlfriend is inflatable!”

The sales girl gave a tinkling laugh. “Oh,you mean you date a blow up doll?”

“I do, and I’m not afraid to admit it!”exclaimed the customer, pink with pride. “Blow Up Betty is a cheapdate. Heck, all she requires is a little bit of air and a lot oflove.”

Jenny and I exchanged a look, wearingidentical raised eyebrow expressions.

I flicked through the racks and sighed.“Jenny, I’m not sure I want to go through with this.”

“C’mon, Liv,” she chided. “It’s Valentine’sday! Don’t afraid to be sexy in the bedroom; I’m positive Ben willlove it.” She handed me a lacy, red teddy. “Here, try this on.”

Humph. That was easy for Jenny to say; withher hourglass figure, she could look sexy in just about anything.Whereas I was shaped like a Bartlett pear. Not an Anjou pear, Boscpear or an Asian pear. But a Bartlett pear—the King of pears.

“I really don’t think I can pull this off.”My shoulders slumped. “I mean, I feel self-conscious in a bathingsuit. How on earth am I supposed to feel comfortable in thisstrappy, stretchy lace teddy with a thong back and diamond snapcrotch?”

“Trust me.” Jenny nudged me toward thedressing room. “Ben will be over the moon that you’re making aneffort.”

“But I don’t want to try it on.” I stood myground, refusing to budge. “I’m pretty sure it’s a healthhazard.”

“Fine,” Jenny huffed. “Just go pay forit.”

“Shoot! I’m supposed to be meeting Ben forlunch.” I glanced furtively at my watch. “In half an hour.”

With the nether garments in hand, I hurriedover to the register. The cashier rang me up and I swiped my Visawith a sense of foreboding.

Oy vey! I hope I wouldn’t live to regretthis.

I arrived at The Parthenon Gyros restaurantright on time but Ben was nowhere in sight. This was not like Benat all. He was never late for anything. After sitting and waitingaround for twenty minutes, I ordered a mega gyro and wanderedaimlessly around State Street, treading on campus grounds, tryingto kill some time. I found myself imbued with a sense of nostalgiafor my undergrad days at the UW-Madison, where all I had to do inlife was focus on my studies, hang out with my friends and lookforward to Spring Break. I released a heavy sigh. Those were thegood ol’ days. The life of an academic seemed so . . . romantic. Idon’t know where I got that from, but the idea of my life’s pursuitbeing knowledge for the sake of knowledge just sounded so neat!Well, the reality wasn’t so romantic. Now I was stuck in a job Ihated, with bills, bills, bills and a hefty student loan torepay.

Still, I had no regrets; I wouldn’t exchangemy college experience for the world. It was where I’d met Ben. Hewas the preppy boy from upstate New York, I was the Granola Galfrom Minnesota and we met and fell in love in a moth-filledlibrary. We had both worked in the college library over the summerand embarked on a dorky Dewey Decimal romance.

Yep, Ben and I would flirt incessantly whilstwe shelved books and shifted periodicals. Surreptitiously, we’dsneak kisses behind rows and rows of books. One night, after we hadclosed the library, we did the ‘deed’ on the second floor, rattlingscores of bookshelves in the process. I still burn with shame atthe memory, but we spent that entire summer not worrying about athing.

We just lived. And loved.

I vividly remember lounging at the MemorialUnion, enjoying Babcock ice-cream cones. We’d chill to live indiebands, staying up all night, watching the sun come up from theterrace. During those warmer months, Library Mall was a fond spotof ours. It was an open and grassy space, abuzz with activities.Students threw Frisbees and played hacky sacks. I’d rest my head onBen’s lap, glorifying in the feel of the sun on my cheeks,losing myself in a good book.

Our summer romance turned into a winterromance. The U-Dub was dubbed the Arctic campus. All winter long,Lake Mendota stayed frozen, like a sheet of glass and the roadswere filled with gray slush and salt. During those dreary months,I’d be holed up in my dorm room, snuggled up with Ben.

Soon, without either of us even realizing it,our romance was no longer determined by the seasons.

We were a couple. Period.

Out of the woodwork, a Granola Gal camewalking toward me, jolting me out of my reverie.

The university had an interesting andeclectic blend of students. But I was especially intrigued by oneparticular species—the Granola Gals. Well because, simply put, Iused to be one of them. They were my peeps. We drank soy lattes anddrifted around in our Birkenstocks, wearing tattered wool socks,baring our unshaven legs. And although the seventies was a bygoneera, we still shared a strong penchant for tie dyes.

Suffice to say, I was beyond ecstatic when Ispotted a Granola Gal sporting dreadlocks, headed in mydirection.

Whoo Hoo! I almost pumped my fists in the airwith joy.

The Granola Gals are not extinct!

Seconds later, she was standing right infront of me.

As I stood there, gazing at her dreadlocks, Icaught a whiff of patchouli.

“Are you Liv?” she asked.

I nodded, too dumbstruck to speak.

“Here,” she said, thrusting a note

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