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2

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The Stranger

What's going on? I stood staring at the backs of diner patrons, their faces plastered to the large front window.
Stranger in town, old Berry mumbled around her cigarette.
Since the war people didn't travel like they used to. Heck they didn't travel at all unless they were stupid or really desperate. The distance from one populated area to another was great and the roads were dangerous.
Our small town hadn't had a visitor in years; the last one I could remember came through when I was just a kid playing in the dirt with my brother and sister. Most people younger than me never came across anybody we didn't know since we were in diapers.
I walked over to the window to join in the gawking. Only Berry didn't seem too inclined to be nosy, though how she managed that was a mystery. The old bag was a notorious gossip.
The girl walking down the center of town didn't look much older than I was but she walked confidently as if she was accustomed to this kind of thing.
In awe I took in every detail from her dusty black boots to her puff of dark hair partially hidden under a knitted cap. Half her face was blocked from my view by her hair.
Every inch of her was so foreign but still familiar. My skin tingled.
She seemed nonchalant but I knew, somehow, that she watched us just as intently as we were watching her.
Half way down the street she stopped and turned towards the diner, as if drawn in this direction.
The collective gasp from the diners almost drowned out the wild drumming of my heart.
The jingle from the little bell above the door jarred me out of the daze I had slipped into when the strange girl turned towards us.
She approached Berry. What town is this?
Berry looked at me, her cigarette tumbling from her lips, her mouth going slack.
You're in St. John's, I answered.
Good, she replied turning to look at me. I found exactly what I've been searching for.

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