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He wrapped my sandwich up in a brown paper bag like the world had screeched to an almost-halt and we were stuck in slow motion in this local sandwich shop, just the two of us.

He tucked in the edges like a Christmas present and rolled the open end of the paper bag slowly upon itself. Once, twice, twice and a half. It should have only taken a quick moment. So swift should have been his movements that he was handing the bag to me and closing the top all in one fluid turn of the wrist. I should have already been out the door with my torpedo, no cheese, extra sub sauce and my meatball sub with provolone. But he took his time, paused, hesitated, didn’t look at the bag, but up at me while he stayed in this final moment of his sandwich sale.

Have a very good night, miss, he said in his heavy Romanian accent, never taking his blue eyes from mine.

Thank you, I meant it. Merry Christmas, though surely we’ll meet again before Christmas day comes.