I get dressed and go out and suffer school and don't even think about how I look until I catch my reflection in the window as I walk up to work. I rediscover the fact that I'm an actual hippo. I am blotchy and haggard, I am scowling and didn't know it. I have made an unfortunate choice of shirts, striped, a terrible idea. It's like one of those diagrams of a pig, to show the different cuts of meat: I'm an instructional poster of my hammiest parts.
I walk in and Julian's there, though he isn't supposed to be, according to the schedule I've already memorized. Something in me jumps and sinks at the same time. I like to look at him but I dread him looking at me.
The first thing he says to me is, "You must like chocolate, right?" and I think, oh my god, he's having fun, he's cruel after all, and then I see he's smiling like sunshine and holding out a tray of candy to me, a girl who does like chocolate but doesn't like to admit it to men, boys, whatever they are. I see he has given me an opportunity to be uncomplicated and I take it. He grins. It's sweet.
He apologizes for it being leftovers - candy he bought on sale after Valentine's Day. I ask how much it cost, he tells me, and we do a bunch of math and figure out how much it cost per piece, and dare each other to eat a dollar's worth, but no way, I haven't lost my mind here.
He offers chocolate to the other girls who work in the coffeeshop; they giggle and won't eat it. Today I do not envy their thighs.
On the way home I get off the bus a stop early so I can duck into the drugstore, hoping. I succeed in finding a box of retarded elementary school-style Valentines, beat-up, one of the last. I don't know yet whether I'll use them. But if Julian does turn out to be dino-riffic, I will have the right way to let him know.