conversations i’ve never had

 The tabletop is full of returns.  I haven’t seen her for two years.  I stretch my hand across the tabletop.  How are you?  I am filled with genuine concern.  How did you fare without me? 

Well, I just drove across the Continental U.S. to be close to you.  I had a run-in with a very mean meathead in Wyoming.  I slept in Moab and roasted marshmellows with a young adventurer with yellowed hair and bits of yarn in his socks.  I saw the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.

Was it a cop?  In Wyoming?

Yes.

How was South Dakota?

I’m not that patriotic, and I hate Theodore Roosevelt.

Did you see Crazy Hose?

Yes.

How was it?

Awkwardly built and full of homage, but not to crazy horse, but to the guy who built the thing.  Some architect – I don’t remember his name.  It was fine.  I’m taking the Southern route next time.

Through Texas? I squeaked.  She still hadn’t taken my hand.

I’m driving straight through the Klan parts.

Good for you!   I laughed heartily, holding my stomach with both hands.

Put your hand back on the table.

Why?

What’s this?  She traced a line down fifteen short vertical slashes somebody had carved against the wall.

It’s the scoring of days that imagined sailors spent on a ship far away from their loved ones.

I told you to put your hand back on the table because I still have feelings, but you and I need to have a conversation before I’m willing

to take your hand.

About what?  I’m here.  We can talk about anything, but don’t you think you’re being a little dramatic?

            You mean that you think I’m being a little dramatic.

The silence filled the space between us.  I automatically assumed marriage.  I didn’t want to fight.

I’m not here to fight.  I’m here to ask you to marry me.  It’s legal in California you know.

            Do I have time to think about it?

                        Is that a yes?

            No.  Maybe.

                        When are you leaving?

            Tomorrow.

I checked the oil and the tank is full.  You can use the same car.

            You don’t suppose that this is a bit on the silly side.

                        What’s silly about two people going back to the place they came from?

            No matter how far away?

                        No matter how far away.

No matter how soon?

            No matter how soon.

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