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Jen Pieroni

The People Here

She walked barefoot from the car, holding the shoes in her hand.

“I don’t know why you wear those anyway,” he said.

“Stupidity,” she said. “Peer pressure. That wasn’t funny, was it?”

Inside the apartment, he put the kettle on for tea while she undressed at the kitchen table, folding the coat and scarf in a corner, piling her jewelry in a neat heap, stripping to her tee shirt. “The people here aren’t like us,” she said finally.

“What kind of statement is that?” he asked.

“Categorical,” she said.

He arranged the mugs on the counter and said, “You don’t like them?”

“It’s not that. It’s just that did you know that she has never shoplifted? Nothing. Not ever.”

“Not everyone commits crimes,” he said. “And that doesn’t make them bad people.”

“I’m not saying they’re bad,” she said. “I mean maybe we are bad. Maybe we are the bad ones.” She thought again of the afternoon at the carnival when she’d pocketed the tiger’s eye necklace, how easy and thrilling it had been to say thank you to the clerk on her way out.

“I didn’t shoplift much either,” he said.

“But you have. You would.”

She unfolded and refolded her scarf, noticing the pulls in the pattern, the ragged and loose chains. "That’s my point."

Jen Pieroni

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