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The smell of Home Depot is something that cannot be erased from someone’s mind. The combination of settled sawdust, cheap house paint, new plastic, burning lamps, fresh barbeques, infinite and towering stacks of stale lumber. It’s like the eternally cliché mutual agreement about never forgetting how to ride a bike. You see the Home Depot logo on a freeway billboard, someone opens a Home Depot gift card for a present at a party, your father talks about going to Home Depot to get a new lawnmower…that smell comes to your nose and it’s as real as the automatic doors and the forty-foot ceilings and the steel aisles and the rusted carts.
I was in the parking lot, and I had just left the store. The car (my father’s) sat idly in it’s space, surrounded by Camrys and Maximas and Tauruses and Hummers and Four-Runners and Corollas, the drivers of which seemed to be staring through my window, prying into my too-public privacy, questioning the decision I was about to make. My phone was cradled in my hands, as if it were too heavy to grasp with just one.
Speed-dial 2. The first and last time I used it. Several rings of skipped heartbeats and nervous twitches and clenched jaws.
A moment of prolonged hesitation
(did she answer?)
and the outgoing voice machine recording. I waited, it ended, I spoke.
“Hey, Elizabeth, this is Mandolin. Um…I was hoping to speak to you about something, so give me a call if you can. My number is 206-239-8704. Alright, thanks, bye.” Perhaps my voice sounded too depressed. Perhaps too somber.
I drove home, my phone on vibrate and clinging to my heart in more than just physicality.
I was downstairs, outside, with my father, when I got the call back. Not only was it the call for which I had been waiting for the last forty minutes, it was the call for which I had been waiting for the last two years. And it was the call I would try so hard to alter months and months and months after it was over. But you can’t erase a message, and you can’t change history as it happened.
I jogged out of the house to take the call and took a walk around the block while I was on the phone. It started with an overused line: “Well, there’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you for a long time now…” and a few more sentences formed like confessions that I was using just to make time.
“Mandolin, you’re scaring me!” She said with accompanying nervous laughter. She was one of the few people who always said my name “Mandolin” and meant it every time she said it. Somehow she always seemed to put the right inflections on the right syllables and it always sounded sincere.
I added more nervous laughter to the conversation and then paused.
“The thing is…I’m in love with you.”