"Along a Shortcut from Nothing to Nothing"

She was from Portland, where people put clean air up there with human rights in terms of importance, and everything was always precisely manicured to futuristic perfection. He was from Cape Cod where they wore button up J Crew sweaters and did drugs on the beach at night. They met at University of Florida where they continually sat on the sidelines and stared with desolate eyes at muscular shoulders and revealing skirts. Greg liked late nights but never wanted to do anything while he was not sleeping. Elsie was always complaining that there was too much to do and not enough time to sit still.

She was pretty in a boring way that made your eyes lose expression and your mind get lost elsewhere. She wore too much makeup but still couldn’t make her face stand out and was failing Biology on account of it. He was geeky but not very smart. He couldn’t find a way to wear his hair and he kept signing up for sports teams and then skipping the tryouts.

They kept having confused conversations where nothing got said, and they could never remember each other’s names. Elsie moved out of everybody’s way and Greg could never tell if people were looking at him or not. She liked Drama but couldn’t stand acting and he was fascinated by Philosophy but kept falling asleep during the lectures. And then, one day, they fell in love.

He was trying to get into a rhythm of working out every morning and so was making his way to the gym. Her boyfriend was trying to convince her to become a cheerleader and so she was standing in front of the gym mirror, wearing his sweatshirt, inspecting her body and finding every imperfection that meant she couldn’t be a cheerleader. By some kind act of God, Greg’s music was timed perfectly to enter the heart-lurching chorus right as he saw her and his eyes rolled in slow motion over her barely-clothed body. For half a minute the lighting looked intentional and she moved her hips and her foggy frame filled with a light that muttered something about the edge of reality.


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He couldn’t be around her if there wasn’t music on, and she couldn’t be around him without mentioning her boyfriend. Their classmates found satisfaction in giggling when they went behind closed doors. They looked forward to meeting each other’s families and spent unhealthy chunks of time diagnosing their own personalities and how they fit together. They listed, with jovial smiles on their faces, all the classes they were failing. He listened to slow romantic music and never discerned the words, only held onto the melody. She bought roses and teddy bears for him, only to have the pleasure of looking guilty when her boyfriend asked her about them. They told everybody they were going on a picnic and then sat on the muddy grass a few yards away from campus and wondered what they were supposed to do.

Days, months, years, graduations, weddings, baby showers and suddenly they were put into the ground, side by side. Their children spoke at the funerals. They spoke about life and death and the animation and passion that their parents had lived with. They spoke about hardships and the love that got them through it all. They spoke about goals and aspirations and working for everything they ever wanted, and finally, Samantha smiles her soberest smile and says, “I can’t begin to do justice to their remarkable love. We can only imagine.”





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