This is a Love Note.

The Best Cheeseburger

An unwelcome blast from the past connects two strangers at their local bar.

Tropes – Meet Cute, Strangers to Lovers

This has got to be the ooziest, wooziest cheeseburger in the world. 

I come to this pub every week on my cheat day. Today, I asked Manny for The Works: ketchup, mayo, pickles, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and three different cheeses—Jack, cheddar, and mozzarella—on a fatty, fresh-ground, grass-fed beef patty. And let’s not forget the toasted brioche bun, or the side of hand cut, julienned, crispy-as-heck french fries. 

Merk’s does not play with their burgers. Thank God.

I’m inhaling the scent of sweet meaty goodness, salivating like Pavlov’s dog, about to take my first bite when my wristband goes off. A holographic image pops up. It’s me. 

Me from 6 months ago here to ruin my life. 

“Hey, girl. Don’t do it. I know it looks good, smells amazing, sure as heck tastes great, but it’s not worth it. You know what dairy does to your bowels. 

Remember your uncle’s wedding? You destroyed not one, but two toilets. Two! You almost ruined that wedding. Do you really want to go through that again? 

Put it down. Step away from the lactose.” My holographic self gives me a hard look before disappearing back into the wristband.

I groan and put my forehead down on the dirty bartop. Goddangit! Why do I hate myself? Why can’t I just enjoy my cheat meal in peace?

“You have one of those too, huh?”

“Ahh!” I whip my head up and to the left. A strange man with dark curly hair is leaning back against the bar, and he sure as heck wasn’t there a minute ago. “Excuse me?”

He shrugs and points to my wristband. That’s when I notice he has the same band on his left wrist. Mine is white, his is black. 

“Your ForgetMeNot®? It’s pretty annoying, right? Mine reminds me that chocolate gives me acne.” He holds up what looks like a chocolate milkshake in his right hand. “Doesn’t stop you from wanting to live a little, just makes you feel shitty when you give in and do it anyway.”

We share a grin. I don’t know anyone else who has this torture device and now I know why. I deactivate my wristband, slide it off, and shove it in a pocket, before turning back to the stranger. “Yeah, my past self doesn’t know what she’s missing. I found this place a couple months ago, and I’ve been dying to try the signature burger. You wanna split it? You know, so I don’t feel too shitty about giving in.”

His grin widens, “Love to.” He holds out a hand. “I’m Jesse, by the way.”

I shake his hand. “Paige. Nice to meet you.”

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