“Clothes,” I say.
“Plans,” he rattles back.
“Lady Gaga’s hairdos.”
“And you know that how?” I laugh.
“MTV… They showed a documentary on her. It was actually good.”
“Surreee…. Ok. The weather.”
“Your father… when he is trying to figure out where he wants to get his coffee in the morning.”
“How did you know that one?”
“I pay attention. I remember more than you think.”
I push off what he’s getting at. We’re not touching it today. I’m not the kind of girl who can sit beside a boy who remembers her favorite color and the way her hands shake when she’s trying to button her coat. I’d rather he turn and say semi-politely, I’m sorry, what did you say again? That was the last one. The Boy Who Forgot Birthdays & Flowers & all the things a girl will claim she doesn’t want nor need until the day he forgets. Those kinds of boys are easier to walk away from.
“That’s deep,” he pauses. “Real deep.”
“I meant north and south kind of things… Keep going.”
We go back and forth, ricocheting off one another with only the roaring of the washer and patches of unclaimed air between us.
“Shoes fall under clothes. I win.”
“Not true,” he rebuts. “Changing your shoes is completely different than changing your clothes. Next…”
“Good one,” he says, pulling me in with a smile that took us to this battle from the beginning. This playful banter that would keep us going for days, as long as we never approached Us. And how often we fit into the category at hand: Things that Change.
We were changing.
Even in that very moment.
Dancing around the growing bonfire lit with the Woods of the Things We Didn’t Want to Talk About, shrouding the conversations with trivialities that wouldn’t hold. Term Papers. Things on the To-Do List. All the things you never force into the Talk of Two when there is still so much to say about the Eyes of One Another and How They Swear They’d Been Searching for Years.
“Seasons,” I double back into the game.
“Kind of like the weather but I’ll give it to you,” he softens. “Your coffee order. Will it be a skim latte today or will you go for pumpkin?”
“Life,” I cut him off.
The room goes quiet. Just the washer. Just the air. Just the curtains hushing the window panes. Just the end tables clamping shut the mouths of the wood floors. Just the clock. Ticking.. Ticking..
“You win,” he whispers, sliding his hand over mine. He doesn’t turn his head- he knows he’ll find the tears burning on my cheeks. Knowing I’d be gone tomorrow, with a suitcase in my hand. My life in its tender suede belly, zipped full.
“I should have said that one first,” I swallow.
He squeezes, harder than I hope for. “There would have never been a game then.”