1. Shit. There’s your ex. He/she looks good. That shirt he/she’s wearing – you bought your ex that shirt. Is this some kind of dig? Some kind of message? He/she finally took your advice and cut his/her hair. That’s not fair. Look at him/her. Pausing at the Table X tables. He/she knows that’s your area. You guys had an agreement. You got all the Table X tables and he/she got all of your friends. Doesn’t an agreement mean anything anymore? Can’t we just be civilized? What was the point of egging his/her car, anyway, if not to communicate?
  2. Submission guidelines. Yes, please. You need numerous submission guidelines. You are simultaneously submitting to a number of things.
  3. Why can he/she not understand that there is a time and a place to be more attractive and it is not now, in person six months after your breakup? It is far more tasteful to be more attractive at a distance. Like, the Arctic Circle. He/she can be as attractive as he/she wants in a big puffy coat that makes him/her look like a marshmallow. Or better yet, he/she can look attractive in a baby seal costume. Baby seals, with their big expressive eyes. So cute and appealing. Right until they are dragged screaming into the water by polar bears, leaving only a bloody trail behind.
  4. You really should buy a copy of this journal. All your friends are in it.
  5. Well, they were your friends.
  6. There are 600 exhibitors. There are two levels to the book fair. The odds of having to actually make eye contact are almost nil. You can totally do this.
  7. “Yeah, I submitted to you guys back in January actually?….still waiting to hear….”
  8. Pick up a button. Pick up several buttons. Pick up bookmarks, because you read books and will mark them. You read a lot of books now that your ex isn’t in your life, taking up all your time with his/her weird ideas about sexual positions and dinner dates. Who likes Ethiopian food? Not you. You like forks. Pick up free candy. Pick up brownies. You don’t need these things but you like the feel of taking. Forget your ex’s laugh. You can hear it, even 20 tables away. He/she sounds like a braying camel. Like a goat screaming. Fork him/her.
  9. There’s a bar in the bookfair.
  10. Now we’re cooking. This drink was absolutely the right idea. Chapbooks. Let’s buy chapbooks. Man, chapbooks is a funny word. Chap. Books. Chaaaapbooks. Chappa Chappa Chappa.
  11. Buy all the chapbooks.
  12. It’s not really following, it’s just that your ex happens to have similar taste in books and you really wanted to go to the Ahsahta table. They have vellum inside each book. Not real vellum. Plastic vellum. Real vellum is skin. You got your MFA printed on paper instead of sheepskin because you’re not a KILLER like your ex, always eating burgers and ribs and he/she never respected your lifestyle, not once. He/she is touching the Ahsahta books. You feel bad for the books. Maybe you’ll buy them later.
  13. You wonder if he/she still uses that bodywash you liked. Is it creepy to smell his/her hair? You’re close enough to do it.
  15. This drink was a bad idea.
  16. Retreat. 2nd floor. Wonder if you can tag your ex somehow and see him/her blink across the screen of a tracking device, like in Aliens. Imagine your ex as a ball of threatening light, coming ever closer.
  17. There are two levels to the bookfair. There are two possible destinations for a soul to take after death. Coincidence?
  18. You should buy more critical books. You should start looking at moves that writers make, over and over, tics and habits, start breaking them down and thinking about what they mean
  19. What does it mean that your ex hasn’t written any stories about you? You’ve checked all the journals his/her name appears in. There do not seem to be any characters that resemble you, or any that are so clearly not you as to be written intentionally to disguise your you-ness. You have looked for repeated tropes or images that might indicate that you are the secret subject, but so far, no luck. Is silence telling?
  20. Forget it. Who cares. Here’s a flyer. Yes, you would like to enter this contest. You would like to give this journal your money so that you might have rejection later. Tit for tat. It’s understood. These things are understood. It’s a losing system and you’re all in.