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Sweet as Candy: A Novel in Verse

By @Madison

Invitation

On Sunday

I go to the supermarket to get Izzy’s cookout essentials

For the fourth.

It isn’t until I reach the checkout line with my cart full of hotdogs and hamburger meat

That I hear a vaguely familiar voice from behind me.

“We have to stop meeting like this.”

I peer over my shoulder

Only to see Levi leaning over his own shopping cart

Cheeks slightly flushed as he gives me a friendly smile.

I smile back.

“Small world, huh?”

“I’ll say,” he replies.

He glances at the contents of my buggy.

“Gearing up for the fourth?”

I nod.

“Yeah. You?”

“Yup,” he says.

“Gotta stock up on explosives to celebrate our independance, you know.”

I laugh.

“Of course.”

The cashier hands the woman in front of me her receipt, prompting her to leave.

I push my cart closer to the front of the line as the conveyer belt starts up.

I watch as the man behind the counter rings up the cold meats and throws them into bags.

I pull a few crumpled bills and change from my pocket when he announces my total

Before taking my bags and heading for the door.

I’m halfway to my car in the parking lot

When I hear Levi’s voice again.

“Hey Candace!”

I turn around to see him not too far behind me

Face rosy from running.

Confused by his urgency

I come to a halt.

He stops in his tracks as well

Running a hand through his mess of dark hair.

“So, um,” he begins.

“Some of my buddies from school are having this potluck thing for the fourth Tuesday night. I know we don’t know each other that well, but I really like talking to you, and, well… I was wondering if you might want to come with me?”

My heart sinks.

Oh God.

The guy who rang up my pregnancy test just asked me out.

I swallow the lump in my throat and force out a reply.

“I, um, — I can’t.”

At that, Levi’s nervous grin turns into a crestfallen frown.

Feeling bad for him, I quickly clear the air on my reasoning.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go. It’s just that my aunt has this cookout thing planned for that night and, well, I sorta have to be there.”

“Oh.”

He nods in understanding, jamming his hands into his pockets.

“Okay, then. That’s cool.”

My God, he looks disappointed.

Suddenly, he’s a lot less boy

And a lot more kicked puppy.

I do my best at a gentle smile.

“Sorry,” I say.

“Who knows? I might be able to work something out.”

His hypothetical puppy ears perk up at that.

“Really? Cool.”

I nod.

“I’ll let you know.”

“Awesome,” he says.

“Can I give you my number or something?”

Before I have the chance to say anything in reply, his face has already gone bright red.

Seems he really wants to be sneaky about hitting on me.

“So you can let me know about the potluck, I mean.”

I can’t help but laugh at his modesty.

“Sure.”

“Great.”

He takes a slip of paper, probably a receipt, from his pocket, scribbling a few digits in Sharpie before handing the slip to me.

“Here you go.”

“Thanks.”

A moment of silence leaves us making awkward eye contact.

Luckily, Levi soon intervenes.

“Well,” he says.

“Guess we both better get going. Maybe I’ll talk to you later?”

“Yeah.”

I give him a grin along with my best polite nod.

“Maybe.”

He smiles

Giving me an endearingly awkward wave before turning around

Walking towards a beat-up silver sedan.

I chuckle a bit at his awkwardness

Before looking down at the slip of paper in my hand.

Positioned between his number and a shakily-drawn smiley face is his name.

Levi DeLuca.

I slip the paper into the back pocket of my shorts

And tighten my grip on my grocery bags

Before going back to my car as well.

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