4 - Gelato and contemplation

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"Why won't you ever say what you want to say? Even my phone misses your call, by the way."  

I drag a tea spoon through the metal basin of raspberry pink gelato and slide it between my lips. It's a bad habit, one that would probably get me fired if my boss were to find out, but a habit that's as easy to fall into - in times of emotional crisis - as biting your fingernails or cracking your knuckles.

It's been uncharacteristically quiet in-store all day, especially for a Saturday, and it's probably thanks to the grey cloud that's settled over the CBD. But I'm relieved. I'm not even supposed to be here; it's not my shift and I should be burritoed in my duvet, recovering from my late night. But all my closed eyelids wanted to show me was Harry. Harry and his expression of bewilderment. Harry walking away. 

Harry being a coward.

And so I wound up coming to work instead. 

I dunk my spoon back into the sweet dessert, slicing through the ice crystals in a way that seems to replicate Harry's assault against my heart. It's a welcome distraction against my lips, but then it hits me.

I totally just double-dipped.

A cough sounds from behind me and I whirl around, spoon still hanging precariously from my mouth.

It's Penny.

"Are you doing what I think you're doing?" She asks, one eyebrow raised. I shrug and shove the teaspoon into the front pocket of my of my peach apron. 

"Depends what you think I'm doing, I guess." 

She laughs. It's a tinkling sound; too high pitched and jubilant for my current frame of mind, but I decide to humour her anyway and my lips tug into a reluctant smile. She pushes her red fringe out of her eyes and grins.

"How was the gig?" 

Stomach acid seems to suddenly fill my mouth and I glance away. She's only seventeen, devoting only a few hours per weekend for a few dollars of independence, and I don't want to unload on her.

Even if the memory of last night is like a punch in the gut.

"Great." I force out through gritted teeth. "Just great."

Shes eyes me sceptically and furrows her brow. "Ok then."

Aside from my mother who helped set me up on the penpal website in the first place, I've never told anyone about Harry. Numerous people knew of my drunken ticket purchase, but that's all they think it was. They don't know that I fought my way through hoards of adoring fans like a woman scorned. They don't know that behind the vodka fuelled madness, there was a purpose.

"I just think that maybe attending gigs alone isn't really my thing." I grimace, quite literally lying through my teeth. Despite Penny's unconvinced expression, I just can't be having this conversation today. Not when my brain is stuck on a loop of Harry walking away. I can still see the spotlights glinting off the gold embroidery of his suit, and the wave of his hair; curling against the back of his neck. 

He didn't look at me for the rest of the show. Left me wedged between strangers and iron railings with no recognition of the music and the sting of rejection burning my cheeks like a hot flush. I'd persevered for three songs; blisteringly hot and teary-eyed until enough was enough. 

"Regardless, I'm still super jealous that you got to go." Penny sighs, sounding more like a teenager than ever. She's gone all doe-eyed and useless as if he's just picked her out of a crowd of millions. "He's ridiculously hot." 

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