“And I don’t think I could ever love anyone else, now that I’ve met you,” I said with a long, drawn out smile. I’d not expected my face to contort like that, but the smile just came out and now she was smiling back at me too. “Why’s that?” She asked. “Here, with you, just in these two hours over coffee, I feel like we’ve covered everyone else’s major flaw, every type of girl, every guy— I feel like we’ve made some sort of pact.” She snorted. “A pact?” I put my hands together on the table, and looked right over at her. “I think, for anyone who came after you, if whatever happens here doesn’t work out, I feel like we’ve made so much groundwork against them, they’re going to be fighting an uphill battle.” The waiter came around and asked if we wanted anything else. “Come with me,” the girl said.
I’d not wandered far when she came to catch me on the mountaintop. “Where are you going?” She said. “Back to the car,” I replied. We were up on this cliff, overlooking the whole neighborhood, practically standing on shards of broken rocks. “It’s not safe up here,” I said as I grabbed for a stray tree stump. That’s when she kicked me. “Why do you think there will be someone who comes after me?” She asked, her hands sliding into my back pockets. “You have a nice butt,” she said. I laughed, and let go of the tree stump, now transferring my balance to her. “There’s bound to be something that goes wrong between us, in the hundreds and thousands of days after this first night.” Her eyes got big and watered over a bit. “Like the way I smell?” She said. I laughed again, and this time she pulled me down into the ivy, taking a seat on my waist, her hair thrown down against my face.
After we finished, she rolled over to look up at the black sky. Her head was rested on my sternum, and she said, “there comes a time….” She pulled a cigarette out of her pocket and lit it up, letting the smoke trail upward toward the moon. “That you need to just give up.” Her head bumped up and down with my heartbeat. “What do you mean?” I asked. “There comes a time when you need to stop looking, stop trying to catch eyes with everyone, stop fighting for attention, stop trying to show off. Just stop it all. There comes a time when you need to accept that the best thing that can possibly come for you is going to come tomorrow, today, or maybe even right now, right here on this ivy.” I pulled my face over to hers, and rested the crest of my cheek across her mouth, listening to her lips almost like braille. “Once you let yourself go, once you let it all go, all of those things pulling you back, all those people from your past— the Lisas, the Annabelles, the Annes and Lou-Annes— once you let them all seep into the ground, let them all spread out evenly in the graveyard, in the great cemetery of love’s past, once you bury them,” she tapped the cigarette and it sent sparks onto the tangled roots surrounding us, “then you can come and lie here with me, and let this perfect starry night go on and last forever.”
more by DOMINICK NERO
Photograph by Petras Gagilas