Down and Up

I thought of you the whole way down. Down I-95 and I-495, along the Pike, across I-84. How many times did we make that drive, you and I? Me to you, you to me. The two of us, together.

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I passed by all of our old haunts, and I let myself miss you. You have five minutes, I told myself. Five minutes to play heartbroken. I turned the radio up and listened to Blake Shelton croon: What’s the greatest chapter in your book? Are there pages where it hurts to look? What’s your guilty pleasure, your old go-to? The best damn thing you lucked into? Mine would be you.

I thought about you and me, brushing shoulders as we walked through the parking lot. About you, knowing I would like a song before I’d heard it. About your thumb, sketching little letters across the palm of my hand. I thought about drive safe, every single time.

I thought about a stubborn center console full of Polar Ice gum. I thought about easy silence and endless road. About red light kisses, about picnics stretched out across the front seat. About really, truly, honestly — in some no-name rest area with no bathroom — feeling like there was no place I’d rather be.

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I worked the windshield wipers furiously, scarcely noticing when they scraped. It’s because I’m lonely, I told myself. It’s because I’m lonely and afraid, and I miss being loved. The same words you flung at me six months ago. And another six months before that.

Maybe if I say them often enough, I’ll believe them too.

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