seven hours
You stirred, hoping I would notice, perhaps calling to me in your mind. Whatever it was, I felt it, and I followed your footsteps through the darkness. There I found you, alone in the shadows, and you raised your head to look at me. "I can't sleep either," I whispered, wondering if maybe I had only been wishing you were asking me to follow.

My steps echoed in awkward squeaks. I dodged them without success, and we both laughed as I attempted to be quiet, but failed miserably. We sat at the kitchen table in a house that was home to neither of us. Funny how everything happens in the kitchen. You asked me what was on my mind. You could tell something was wrong, you said, even as I walked through the door just hours earlier, meeting you in person for the first time.

We sat and talked, clumsily at first. You asked about things you knew I would be thinking about, and I answered them rather openly. I felt as if I was babbling. You said no, that you liked to listen. You admitted you're not one for talking, but how it wasn't always that way. I managed to pry you open. You said that you had been wondering if you would get me to come into the kitchen. I wondered what that meant. You told me a little about your family. I wished that you would tell me more.

We played with the box of markers on the table. You fidgeted with the glue, stripping the dry pieces from the orange plastic lid, making analogies between life and the glue itself. I smiled as you pushed the dry white flakes into a pile with your fingers. I doodled on a napkin. I told you a story about how a guy I used to know told me I am always decorating something, and how I figured he was right.

We discussed the small plastic scissors laying on the table, you questioning the fact that it was half purple plastic handle with such a small space to cut. I used them to carve a design into a folded napkin, like the kind I remembered making in elementary school. You smiled as I showed you my ingenious design, and we laughed as we bent to pick up the thin paper pieces that the draft in the room had suddenly spilled onto the floor. I sniffed, and I thought nothing of it. You stood up.

"I'll be right back," you whispered.

"Okay," I nodded, expecting you to leave the room for whatever it was you needed. Instead, you walked silently over to the paper towel roll and broke off two pieces, bringing them back to the table and setting them in front of me. I looked at you, confused. "In case you want to blow your nose," you offered. I decorated them instead, but wondered how you could possibly be so thoughtful.

You asked me what else was on my mind. I told you nothing really, but pointed towards the living room, where he was sleeping. You asked me why I was with him. I told you I wasn't. Your eyes shifted towards the window, and you noticed how late-slash-early it was. I looked out and noticed the sky was brightening against the silhouettes of the trees outside the window. I asked if you wanted to sit outside.

I slipped my socks off and left them by the door as we stepped out onto the damp wood of the back deck. We stood for a long time there, leaning against the rail and peeking down onto the muddy floor of a heavily wooded yard. You said this would be the first time you would ever see a sunrise. I smiled. We talked. We watched the world around us fill with light under a clouded grey sky. You thanked me for being the first person you watched a sunset with. I told you there was no need to thank me for that. I wanted to kiss you.

Instead, I peered down at the mud and asked you if you saw shapes in things the same as I do. You said sometimes. I told you a story about mold I sometimes see in my shower, and how the shapes seem to parallel my life. How once I saw the Statue of Liberty and soon after went on a short summer trip to New York City. You looked at me and smiled.

We pulled two chairs, beaded with rain water, away from the round white table, placing dry, pillowy green cushions on top of them. We sat comfortably next to one another. I listened to you sigh often as we talked, and finally asked you what was on your mind. You gave me a vague and complicated reply. I hoped that I would get it out of you.

We wanted the clouds to break. You made a mock parting motion with your hands. We laughed, and continued to talk. Later the thick grey mass began to thin, and we watched the now separated clouds move above us in mysterious layers across the blue sky. I told you how I always watched the clouds, and how I loved to find things in them. I pointed out a centaur, then a Cyclops. You were impressed. I was the first girl, you said, that had any knowledge of what a centaur was. I smiled and told you about an old book of Greek myths that my great grandmother had given to my mother, and how I read it over and over as a child. We continued watching the clouds. You told me I had a great imagination. You said I was different than you had imagined. I asked how so, and you said you weren't sure.

By this time we had made a game of catching each other yawn or sigh. I caught you sighing many times, and we smiled and laughed. Finally you confided.

"Do you really want to know what's on my mind?"


"Well, mostly you." You told me I was pretty, sweet, smart. I didn't know what to say.

"Thank you."

You wouldn't have it. You never would allow me to thank you in the past, even for the most important things. I called you on it teasingly. You said there was no need, that you were only honest. I insisted, and we argued playfully. Finally you gave in, smiled and said "you're welcome."

I told you that you were sweet. I wish now I had said more.

We laughed about how dirty we had managed to become: cat hair on our clothes, dirt on our bare arms, marker on our hands. We smiled to each other and continued talking. You asked me what it was that attracted me to him in the beginning. I said that I didn't know. You told me that you had thought about something with me before. You told me a story about your friend ordering Chinese food the week before, and how he had given you one of his fortune cookies. It had said that good fortune would come to you. You told me that at the time you thought it might have something to do with me, and now it had come true. Again, I wanted to kiss you.

You were always looking at me. I watched the squirrels and the birds and looked back at you in between, and often caught you looking at me. I asked why, and you said you were watching me watch things. I told you about photography. We talked. I caught you sighing and yawning. You laughed. I told you that I paid attention. You said it was with more than my eyes. I smiled and pointed out that I was sitting right next to you. You told me you've had girls sit closer, and yet they had missed a lot.

We talked, probably for a third time, about how both of us are normally quiet. You said I had managed to get a lot out of you, and that normally you weren't this talkative. You told me I was good to talk to. I smiled and said that I only really talk to people I like, and that I liked you. You smiled and thanked me.

We played with the cat and the dogs, having cat hair fights and laughing. I had the dogs steal your chair and roll around in it, playfully telling them to leave their fleas there for you. You laughed. We flirted, play-fighting. You sat next to my chair on the ground, leaning against the rail. I flicked your hand. You tickled me. It continued. I still wanted to kiss you.

By this time, the sun had come out, and we basked in it as we spoke. I laid my arm next to yours and we laughed at how pale I was. As the sun climbed higher in the sky, the air around us became hot and humid. We gave up and decided to step inside to the comfort of the air conditioning. His parents told us to go wake him up, so we walked into the living room, scheming evil ways to disrupt his slumber. He was already awake. We climbed the two flights to his room and found him there at his computer.

For the first time since I had stepped into the kitchen to talk to you hours earlier, I felt uncomfortable again. I was uneasy with him there. I wondered if you were too. He laid down on the bed and you laid on the floor by the window. I sat at the end of the bed, my back to you, my eyes focused on the television, but not really paying attention.

I hadn't slept in at least 24 hours. I ended up laying down on the floor, on the opposite side of the bed from where you were. He laid between us. I fell asleep for around an hour. My mother soon arrived to pick me up, to drive back home, 4 hours away from all of this.

I wanted to hug you goodbye. I had thought of kissing your cheek before I left, to let you know how much I had loved sitting and talking with you all night. I had hoped I would get that chance, but he was there, and I couldn't. My mother started down the steps, and I stood so that he would pass me and start down as well. I leaned back a little to see you through the doorway. I looked at you, and you were watching me from the bed. You looked sad, as I must have. I gave you a knowing look and waved, and that was the last I saw of you.

Out of all the confusion that had happened between he and I over the weekend, the only thing I could really think about on the ride home was you, and how I could manage to see you again. I sit here and I wonder where you are, what you're doing right now. We talked about so many things in the seven hours that we were alone together with our thoughts and clouds and conversation, I cannot even begin to recall everything here. All I know is that it was the best night I've had in far too long. I wish that I could talk to you. I wish that I could tell you what an amazing night it was. And I wish I would have kissed you. But most of all, I want to tell you that I miss you.


Wednesday, January 17, 2001


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