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Apple of My Eye

Alice had been playing with a penny on the bar, setting it on its edge, trying to make it stand. She had a scar that ran diagonally across the back of her hand.

Frank moved in her direction and strummed his guitar. He liked her deepset eyes, which in the reflection from the mirror behind the counter shone blue, then brown. He sang in his tenor voice: “You’re the apple of my eye,

The lemon in my tea,
The xanax in my blood.”

Alice straightened on the barstool as if to evaluate him. “I would ‘ve put you down for a coffee drinker.” She tilted her head. “Or vodka maybe.” She gave him a sharp, quick smile and finished her vodka.

Frank tipped his head back and crooned, “You’re the vodka under my sink.”

“What’re you going to rhyme with ‘sink’?” she asked.

“Drink could be a link between us, because you seem in the pink.” Frank was pleased with his quick thinking.

“Something rinky-dink and hinky there.” She looked at him sideways. He was in his forties and was only beginning to lose his hair. “I’m the bottle under the sink, huh? Where there’s mold and leaks and, for all I know, mouse droppings.”

“Oh, darlin’, I keep a clean house, and I have no pets, so I see not a mouse.”

“Can we just talk?” she asked. “Or are you on the clock and obliged to sing this whole time?”

“I know how to talk.” Frank propped his guitar against the bar and sat on the stool next to her. “Let me buy you a drink.” He raised his hand to the bartender.

“I’ll buy you one.”

“No need. I drink for free while I’m working.”

“All right then. I’ll have a ginger ale.” She explained, “One vodka is my limit.”

“I love a woman with self-control,” he said. “She won’t be all over me all the time, asking for that mushy love stuff.” He was pleased with himself again.

The bartender brought her ginger ale. He was a young kid, a college student probably. She lifted the glass in a toast. “To self-control.”

“In your case, I’ll make an exception. To indulgence.” He put his chin on his hand and stared at her face, squinting his eyes.

“Is there a smudge on my nose?” She stretched her neck and waved at the mirror behind the counter. “Or a booger?”

“You’re a confident lady. Rich enough to buy me a drink, self-controlled, and confident.” He whistled. “I’m a lucky man.”

“Not so fast.”

“I meant I’m lucky just to meet you.” In back of them was a movement. The drummer and bass player ambled toward the stage and took their seats. “The next set is about to start.”

She leaned toward him, her expression urgent. “Will you sing a song for me?”


“Will you sing a song about how love lasts forever, and how lovers will be parted never.”

“I’ll do my best.” He shrugged. He turned his eyes full on her. “Honestly, I haven’t written many songs like that.”

“Try.” Her eyes gleamed violet now as the lights dimmed for the show.


Cezarija Abartis’ Nice Girls and Other Stories was published by New Rivers Press. Her stories have appeared in Liquid Imagination, New York Tyrant, Prime Number, and r.kv.r.y., among others. This story began on and was workshopped on Recently she completed a novel, a thriller. She teaches at St. Cloud State University.


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