Newspaper Route

by - April 25, 2011

“You have freckles. I never noticed before.” Sam adjusted the strap across his shoulder and pulled out a newspaper, flinging it up to the front door across from him.

Julie tugged at her oversize sweater, glancing around anxiously at the mansions surrounding them. When she had signed up to do the paper route, she hadn’t expected to be in such a high-class neighborhood. “Yeah, so what? Why are you so interested all of a sudden?”

“I’m not.”

Her eyes narrowed, remembering the teasing that had gone on the night before. “Is it because of what happened at Jamie’s.”

“No. What is your problem today?” He looked over at her, squinting as the sunlight blinded him, peeking over the mountains. He shrugged and kept looking at her. “I just…I like them.”

Julie jammed her hands up under her arms, wishing she had brought gloves. “I don’t. They make no sense.”

“Why?” He threw another paper, sending it directly at the foot of the door.

“I live in Alaska; there is no sun.”

“What does that have to do with freckles?” Sam knew she was smart enough to know that freckles didn’t have to come from the sun. She was just arguing for the sake of it.

“Nevermind; you don’t get it.”

They lapsed into silence. At five o’clock in Anchorage, barely anyone was awake—and for good reason. Even though it was nearly April, Sam still saw his breath rise in clouds of mist. He could only imagine how Julie felt, with only her sweater and jeans.


“Hmm?” Like him, her mind had drifted elsewhere. He wondered selfishly for a moment if her thoughts had stayed focused on him. But no; why would they?

“What’s your middle name?”

“What is this, Julianna Taylor: Life Story?”

“You guessed it, Fredword.”

She laughed, despite herself. “What the heck? Where’d you come up with Fredword, Einestine?”

“Einsteine? I call you Fredword and all you can come up with is Einst—OUCH!”

“Ooops, sorry.”

“Geez woman, you hit hard.” He rubbed his shoulder where her fist had connected. She was stronger than she looked.

“Sorry man, I didn’t mean to hurt you or anything.” He figured he probably deserved that, after pulling the woman card.

“Okay, now you’re being mean. The only way I can respond to this is the silent treatment.” Grinning slightly, he moved a couple paces forward.

“But Saaam…”

He threw another paper. They were getting toward the end of their route.

“Sam?” She caught up to him, tugging on his bag full of papers. “Sam! Guess what?”

When he felt his cell phone ringing, he nearly burst out laughing. It was perfect. Digging it out of his pocket, he pushed the green button. “What?”

“Ha, you talked.” He shook his head at her, gesturing to his phone. She glared, pulling up short.

“No, of course not Sheryl. Why would I be with anyone.” He listened as his sister rattled on, only half listening. He was too busy watching Julie’s retreating form as she trudged a mile back toward her house.

“Hey sis, I gotta go. I’ll call you later, ‘kay?” He snapped his phone shut and threw the last three papers, screwing up his nearly perfect record of doorstep delivery. Oh well, he’d only missed them by a few feet.

“Julie, wait up.” He took off down the street running, surprised at how out of shape the winter had made him.

“Julie I—"

“Shut-up Sam.”

She ignored him the rest of the way home, only glancing over once to check that he was still there.

“Bye Julie,” he walked her to the door of the white gate that lined her apartment building, “see you tomorrow?”

She nodded, slipping into the building without a word.

He smiled as he walked home. She was so stubborn. It was nice to see a girl stand up for herself for once.

She might have been stubborn, but that didn’t stop Julie from watching him as he walked away, staying at the window until his tall form was no longer visible against the light of the rising sun.

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