The sign she liked came to me in just a few seconds. I didn't think it was anything special, but I'm the harshest critic of my own work.

Her face, framed between my pillow and a swath of red hair, looked like a distant apparition of some lost thing half-remembered, half-imagined. It was perfectly composed, with soft, graceful orthogonals leading to the focal point on the bridge of her nose. Her lashes blossomed in delicate impasto strokes, cradling the wet orbs of her eyes, which shimmered like radiant lights at the ends of tunnels made of way too much eyeliner.

Her name, according to the tag on the crumpled shirt on the floor, was Jessica. She worked at Sub Hut, the rival sub shop across the street. Her favorite sandwich: Steak and Cheese.

"When I saw the sign, I knew I had to meet you," her sleep-sodden voice cooed. "It was so funny and clever."

Her hands caressed my back like the soothing blue lines in a Tylenol commercial. My fingers explored the whorl above her nape. The warm carpet of hair felt a world apart from the scabby landscape of plastic marquee letters my hands were used to. It told me I had finally found my place; finally bridged the cold distance between two hearts that made the cold distance I had to walk every morning to hang my signs seem infinitesimal.

"I just hope you weren't mad when I burst into the restaurant and demanded to see the sign-writer," she murmured. "You gave me this look like people give when they hear a joke they don't get."

"I was just looking at your breast," I replied softly. "I was trying to figure out if you had an ironic or unironic mastectomy. But then I realized it didn't matter. In body-modification surgery irony and sincerity are just two sides of the same sexy coin."

She let out a sweet, lilting laugh. We spent the rest of the afternoon awkwardly making love, like two neutered kittens dry-humping in the middle of the road, unaware of an oncoming truck; feeling the true meaning of passion for the first and last time.

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