Page 217 of my Autobiography

peanut butter, but not on sandwiches and praying mantises and the slow cars on the highway. I told him that he loved an awful lot of things. He shrugged. I asked him if he ever loved anyone. He told me that he didn’t love people because people never lasted. Now burgers, those he could love. Burgers were reliable. “Hey,” he said once. “Hey, Emily. Listen to me. Don’t love people. Find something like a burger and love that.” I just nodded.

And so, when I started to love him, I felt like a fool. I was ashamed to see him in the office because my heart would grow ten sizes and I’d stop thinking about the weak coffee I drank every morning or the war between some countries and instead, I’d think about the life that I would have with him. It was fifth grade all over again, dealing with the realization that boys don’t have cooties and doodling names in hearts on my math worksheets. Only, this boy was different because he loved the slow cars on the highway more than he loved people. He would have laughed at my silly thoughts and each night, I prayed that he would never find out about my love for him.

When the doorbell rang on that Tuesday night, I was sitting at the kitchen table. My hair was wet from the shower, my feet were bare. I was wearing an oversized t-shirt that had once belonged to an ex-boyfriend or possibly Daniel or maybe my dad. I was eating Cocoa Puffs from the box - I hated milk and I hated doing the dishes. I wasn’t expecting anyone, but I opened the door and he was standing there, car keys in hand. His Toyota hummed from the driveway.

“Do you want to get ice cream?” he asked.

It was the middle of January and the cold air coming in through the door went right down to my bare feet, making me shiver. I laughed and crossed my arms. “You could have called first, you know. I just got out of the shower.” He had never seen me this way, wearing a wrinkled t-shirt in a messy apartment. I straightened my hair each morning and kept an organized desk and ironed my skirts.

“Doesn’t matter to me. I’m up for ice cream.”

“Is there anywhere to get ice cream in the middle of January?” He assured me that plenty of places served ice cream in January. Ice cream was reliable. I trusted him and I sat shotgun in his Toyota because I loved him. I loved ice cream too, but not as much as him. That was the difference between the two of us. I had too much secret love for people.

McDonald’s was not the most romantic choice, but it was open and it served ice cream. He pulled into the drive-through and rolled down the car window and ordered, without even bothering to ask me what I wanted. I didn’t mind, though because I liked vanilla ice cream. He turned up the heat in his car and pulled into a parking spot. We were quiet for a few minutes and I could hear every motion he made. It wasn’t the best ice cream and I had





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