(Originally posted July 16, 2016)
I have no idea if the weight of two people on the hood of a car is good for it. But I don’t care. It holds us up in more than one way.
I stare out at them, the stars, and I think a lot of things. I’m told that’s a pretentious thing to say. I’m told we live in a world full of clichés and platitudes. And yet, like so many before me, I like looking at them, and wondering.
“You’re thinking again,” she says, and I like to hear that voice of hers.
I like to look at her too, even if it’s only this time for a brief sidelong glance.
“Yeah, I am. I like thinking.”
“It doesn’t agree with you, though,” she says, and she moves so the left side of her hip is up against me. Her arms wrap around me.
And it doesn’t quite keep me warm. Not on my skin. But I always found the edge of cold to be a thing of life. Of reinvigoration.
Spring may be when plants live. But fall is when I do.
“I know. But I can’t stop. We…well…the world really is as beautiful as we say it is. And we sometimes need to stop and say it again.”
“Yeah,” she agrees, “amazing it’s still here. After all we did to it. Wars and stuff.”
“And pollution,” I say, “and hatred, and yeah…a lot.”
Down below the stars, sits a beach. It’s hard to see for us. But it is there. We used to swim in it. Back when we were kids.
“You know we can’t stay much longer,” she says.
I sigh. “I know. It’s nice. This night.”
She hugs me harder for just a second, and then leans back on the car. The edge of her shirt moves up, and for the briefest flash I can see her skin. Her belly button.
I don’t understand why, but I reach out and I touch her stomach. When I pull away, she takes my hand and holds it, and I lean back further on the hood of the car. My head touches the edge of the roof.
“You’re thinking too,” I say.
“Of course I am. How could I not?”
“Because it would make you sad.”
“I think,” she says before she lowers her voice. “I think being sad for just a few moments, with a friend, is not a bad thing. As long as it’s possible to move past it.”
“So I suppose I can ask if it’s the day, today? Is that why you wanted to come out here?”
“Yeah, it’s been one year, since they went up there.”
“I’d stopped counting,” I say.
“I never stopped.”
“Well, I didn’t know her as well as you. I didn’t know him before he went up. My brother and I were never that close.”
She laughed in the way that is not for mirth, and yet not for spite. But for lack of anything else. “I still know her. Everything she is up until then, I know. And I will always know.”
“And if one of us goes up there one day?” I say.
She leans forward, and over me, so I can’t see the pink tear in the sky. The one that wraps around the stars and gives them a new tinge of beauty. She touches my chest.
“Why? Do you want to go up there too?”
“No,” I say. “I don’t want to. But will you know me then? If I did, and you stayed here?”
“Of course I would know you,” she says. “I’d miss you. And I’d hold onto the pieces you left.”
I sigh and release something in me I don’t think I understand. Like my soul exhaling. And I lean forward, peck her on the lips, and hug her.
She hugs back.
“We should go now,” she says. “It’s getting too cold.”
It doesn’t bother me. The cold edge. Keeping my senses sharp, and my thoughts dull. Or at least muted. In the wake of the pink void.
But I drive her home. Her comfort means more. I didn’t know my brother well. When he went into that void with the others.
But she sure did know her mother.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!
Special thanks to: Bob Gerkin, Collin Pearman, Dylan Alexander, Jerry Banfield, and Michael The Comic Nerd.
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