Thief

“I stole it,” she tells you. A small plant in a round glass pot rests innocently in her hands.

You look at her for a second, taking in her proud grin and bright eyes. “You just took it? You can’t just take table decorations at nice restaurants.” Or, looking at her now, no police sirens blaring in the distance — maybe you can. You feel a little guilty now for not having believed her when she said she loved the pot design so much she would put it in her purse. Maybe you could’ve prevented this small thievery.

“Listen.” She leans in close, and you feel her warm breath on your ear. “I steal stuff like this all the time. I once took a wooden figurine from a café because I liked the way its face looked, like there was a real wolf in it wanting to howl at the sky.”

You just had a lovely dinner with her, and the sudden proximity colors your ears a deep pink. Even as her confession makes you shift uncomfortably on the park bench, you wonder if she’d like to see the drawings of animals you’d etched into birch wood back in college. One of them has a wolf, you think.

“You can’t be serious.”

She nudges you with her shoulder and laughs. “God, haven’t you ever taken something you shouldn’t have?” She tucks the plant carefully back into her purse then eyes you, squinting a bit as if she can see the hidden mischievousness behind your front of a righteous citizen.

“Only back when I was six and I didn’t know you had to put the candy in a bag and pay for it at the supermarket. I ate a couple peach gummies from one of those big plastic containers before my dad noticed.”

She claps her hands together, delighted. “See! That’s something!” She notices your expression and quickly adds, “Don’t worry, I was kidding about the figurine thing. I haven’t stolen anything before today. Actually,” she admits, letting out a sheepish laugh, “I was really worried they were gonna stop me at the door when we were leaving and I was about to be so embarrassed on our second date.”

She’s looking down now, hands fidgeting, a soft mumble sounding like the pot was too cute filling the air.

“Well, even if that happened, we’d come back and try again,” you say, smiling.

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