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The answer


Nevada Scheffler, Royal Oak • Grand Prize, McOndo


Ten a.m. on Sunday, a half-caf soy steams morning crust from my eyes, though I’d tossed with adrenaline the night before — the night I knelt and asked that old-fashioned thing my forefathers had asked all the way back to the days right after love stopped being arranged.

Will you, won’t you, don’t you love me?

She plucked shiny iPod buds from her 10-gauge ears, her mouth rounding into a perfect ring of disbelief. I left her to ponder with promise of morning java at the café on Humbolt.

At 9, we’d rolled opposite directions, tumbled from bed and ventured out for liquid wake-up calls. Me antsy to talk like old-fashioned couples do. Waiting for the beep, beeping of her cell’s keypad to finish. Waiting. Swoosh of send. Mouth opening; a pocket vibration alert. I looked down in time to miss her exit and to catch her texted answer, “I don’t.”

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