WE’RE WAY PAST THAT claire hopple

Mallory thought these new conditions in Cincinnati were agreeable. There were a lot of murals in her neighborhood. A four-level bookstore was within walking distance. A man named Gypsy Frank photographed people on the street whose outfits he found especially fashionable.

    That is, she thought these new conditions were agreeable until she caught herself talking to characters on a sitcom rather intimately. One character was being called out by another and she said, “That was so cold but so true,” aloud. Then the thought-snowflake drifted down to gently force the realization that she didn’t know this character at all and was actually thinking of someone she knew back home. A friend from school who accompanied her to the Hunan Kitchen once in order to fulfill an “ethnic food” requirement for Home Ec.

    “We might as well visit the koi pond at the mall,” this friend had said, grabbing a hunk of General Tso’s with a hollow exuberance.

    So maybe she needed to start socializing, she admitted to herself. The only striking interaction that’d occured since she got here was when a man at the bus stop had solicited her. She tried to retaliate by spitting on his shoe but it ended up being the dribbly kind that just hung from her chin.

    Mallory decided to start small. She greeted fellow residents in the building. One of them, Kyle, cobbled together a living with several different jobs. He taught a driving course at local high schools and received undue double birds from drivers simply because of the “Student Driver” sign permanently displayed on his Civic.

    Mallory could say what she wanted to about Kyle, but he’d actually helped her land an interview with a flashy startup she had no business working for.

“It would be a personal comfort to me if you’d let me fix your car,” Kyle said to her when they were getting their mail from the metal cubbies in the apartment entryway.

    “Oh, well…”

    Mallory had already said all manner of things to reject this offer but it was clear to her now that he wasn’t really asking. He’d mentioned something last time about a steep discount if she publicly endorsed his rap career across all social media platforms.

    “Well isn’t this just typical,” he said, pinching a box that was lodged so tightly in his mail cubby it seemed the cubby had been built around it.

    “The postal worker can’t be bothered to put mail in the right spots but somehow manages to fit this in here.”

    Impressed by the oddly specific skills and deficiencies of the USPS, Mallory used this particular marvel as an excuse to slip away upstairs.

According to the internet, one could prepare for a job interview by anticipating certain common questions.