Bokeh light dots in the enameled mirror corners where they smile at one another, at themselves. Black clothes like posh Europeans, bundled against cold and all they weren’t saying to one another: define hipster (on a coffee-drugged night like this, so young and lipsticked, thick with gel and expectations, does it matter?); define the relationship (who are we two, eating pizza with Indians and wishing to see Maya Angelou and picking one another up out of the mud without words?); define their worth (what mark can we leave, as selfish as we are? where will we be in a year? tomorrow?). For her birthday, he gives her the analog photo, gluesticked to a watercolor he had rainbowed over an old doodle she had left behind in church. A year later, they trek across the West searching for more pizza and enjoying the crystal blue of a new ocean, far from their meeting grounds in the forested east, so sequestered, a secret train-ridden world where they could hide in the trees and light their hippie street corners with tired smiles and old lamps. There in those wide open spaces, they still clench their jaws against words. In parting, he gives her a drug rug the color of his eyes and vanishes for another year, mostly because she was in love with someone else. The next time, he meets her family by accident, and they wander another daylit downtown, feeling the air turn crisp again. The windows are down to accommodate the drying cornstalks falling out of the car–her mother wanted to decorate the family porch–and they are alone. But the words never come. When he snaps another photo of her, he realizes, backdropped with brick, she stands bravely by herself. Or perhaps not bravely. Perhaps it was all she could do. They drive back to her house, and he gives her flowers–yellow. “Goodbye.” The pictures went up on Facebook, and there were no descriptions.


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