Jamaal pulled the blanket out of his backpack. He shook it open and spread it out on the grass, then gestured.

Ines, looking at him shyly, kneeled on the blanket, carefully arranging her skirt. She smiled up at Jamaal, then held her own hand out, asking him to join her.

“So, umm,” Jamaal said, sitting down. “Do you…crap. Uh. No, not crap. Sorry. I just meant, uh…”

“Do I come here often?” she said with a laugh.

“Umm, yeah,” Jamaal said, blushing.

“No, not at all. Only when nice boys ask me on dates.”

“Oh?” Jamaal said, raising an eyebrow.

“No, I mean, that’s not often. I don’t come here a lot. I just. I mean. This is the first time I’ve been here.” Her own cheeks flushed, and they looked away from each other, then met eyes again.

“Well, um, thanks. For coming on a picnic with me,” Jamaal said, picking at his jeans.

“My pleasure,” Ines said. After a beat, she gestured to his backpack. “Shall we?”

“Sure,” Jamaal said, digging into the pack. He pulled out an insulated lunchbag and a bottle of wine. “I only had plastic cups for the wine,” he said, setting one in front of her.

“That’s okay.”

“Also, I hope you like egg salad sandwiches.”


Jamaal’s eyes opened wide as his stomach dropped. “Umm, I mean, I can totally go and get you something else! There’s a corner store, like, five minutes walk from here. Really, it’s no trouble. Cheese? Chicken?”

“No, no,” Ines laughed. “I love egg salad. My Mom used to make it all the time.” Jamaal’s body relaxed as she continued, “I remember this one time, we were supposed to be meeting my aunt for dinner at some hoity-toity place, and my aunt being one of those well-to-do types who forgets where they came from decided she would show up ‘fashionably late’, which to her meant, like, an hour and a half after we had agreed to meet there. Well, after half an hour of waiting, Mom was having none of it, and was so pissed off she marched us all two blocks down the road and bought us egg salad sandwiches. We sat, we ate, then marched right back, and it was just then that my aunt was arriving. Mom said ‘We already ate, enjoy your dinner.’ It was so cold! But the sandwiches were delicious, and Mom took us to a movie. It was amazing.”

Jamaal was laughing, though unsure if he was supposed to. “That’s a great story,” he said. “Well, I hope mine are at least half as good.” He handed her a sandwich wrapped in tinfoil, then took one out for himself. He unwrapped his, and she did the same. “Umm, bon appetit,” Jamaal said.

“Bon appetit,” said Ines. They each took a bite, and smiled at each other as they chewed.



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