“Journaling in a dive bar? Isn’t it a little loud and hard to concentrate?” The angel asked. Joel had never seen such an exotic and gorgeous woman before. Or a black woman with ash blonde hair. Her skin was so flawless, like airbrushed perfection from a men’s magazine. Having the consolidation of effort to get ink on paper here was nothing compared to the struggle to focus on answering her question, shocked she was even engaging him.

“Yeah, I know it’s a bit odd. But I can’t concentrate in silence. It makes me uncomfortable.”

The woman took a sip from her glass. “I see.  Joel’s Journal.”

Joel looked down and noticed he had closed his book and she must have read the cover. Quickly he added, “It’s a good excuse to get out and not drink alone. Because drinking alone is a clear indication of alcoholism,” he nervously laughed.

“Well, I can understand that.” The understatement of a century. “But it looks like you’re drinking milk.”  The two stared at each other for a moment.  Then they both laughed.

“I’m Joel, obviously,” he said sheepishly. “What’s your name?”


“Hrmmm…that’s different.” Joel took a swig of his milk. “It sounds…”

“German.” Elend started to down the rest of her Crowne and Coke.

Joel noticed he was sweating and decided he must do whatever it was in his power to keep the conversation flowing for as long as possible. Speaking with women, especially exceptionally beautiful ones, was never his strong suit.  “Well, I’m part German. My last name is Roland.”

“Ah.” Elend smirked sideways. “I never tell strangers my last name. As a single young woman, it’s a good way to get yourself stalked.” How ironic that statement had been for her to make. After years of having honed her stalking skills as a means of survival, she had never actually been the stalkee. That observation disappointed her. Maybe having a stalker would break up the monotony of her existence, but she had better reason to not yet disclose her surname.


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