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The night was falling swiftly away outside, but we, trapped in our self-inflicted little paradise, were purely unaware. Who cared how soon the sun would rise? No one did – us two least of all. We were content, coasting along on the oblivion of the wee hours.
We had the house to ourselves, and I was lying prostrate on the floor of the back room with the top of my head pushed firmly against the couch. My eyes were closed, and I wasn’t sure where you were. You had moved since the last time I had opened them. I could barely hear you over the mix of Owl City and Glennmark, Eriksson & Strömstedt, Kenny Loggins and Manhattan Transfer in my headphones.
I think you were reading, aloud, some poem of mine or of yours, I wasn’t sure. Perhaps you read from the book I had brought with me that night – Kristin Lavransdatter. Perhaps you read the editorial I wrote for the most recent edition of my college paper.
That opinion piece had the strangest history of any I had seen – and in my career of six-and-a-half years of journalism, three-and-a-half of those being college, a semester so far as editor, I had seen and written plenty. You had expressed how annoying something was and asked me to write an editorial; I had said sure, written it as a matter of duty, looked at the finished product, discovered it was a lot better than a duty piece has any right to be, and published it. I never did figure out why the subject annoyed you so much.
I opened my eyes. I could barely hear my own voice over Kenny crooning “That’s the way it’s gonna be, little darlin’, we’ll go ridin’ on the horses, yeah, yeah…” but I went ahead and spoke anyway, my eyes fixed on the screen saver of your Mac, visible through the open doorway to your little office. It was a slideshow of pictures you loved – some I had given you of me in Sweden, some of us together when we had gone to Green Bay on a whim last spring break, some of you snowboarding at your favorite mountain in Virginia.
“Could you stop?” I asked abruptly.
You stopped and stared at me over the top of a typewritten piece of printer paper. Behind your frameless glasses your eyes were accusingly green. I didn’t know your eyes were ever that color.
“Why?” you asked, confusion and hurt vibrating through your tone.
I paused the song, pulled my headphones out, and sat up, all in one deliberate motion. “What were you reading?”
“It was that poem you gave me when we were in high school,” you said. “I found it the other day in a box.”
“Oh,” I said. “What poem?”
You glanced at the sheet in an imperceptible flicker of bluish green. “‘Falling.’”
I made a remembering noise like “Ah.”
“I love this poem,” you said wistfully.
“I was always proud of it,” I said, feeling strangely remorseful.
“May I keep reading?” you asked, this time with a hint of sarcasm in the subtlest of undercurrents.
“Yes, please,” I said. “Actually, could you begin all over again?”
You consented and began to read the words I had written so long ago in a fit of love and pique and imagination. I lay back down, my headphones lying languidly abandoned on the carpet beside me, and tried to forget the editorial. Poetry, I thought wildly, poetry…
I felt as though I were in a whirlwind, the editorial leading me around and around in circles, spinning in a void filled with the burning colors behind my eyes when I rubbed them. The dizzier I grew the more maliciously that editorial was laughing at me…
I blinked. You hadn’t called me Wonder in years.
You sighed sadly. “Wonder, I love you.”
I turned my head on the carpet. “I love you too.”
You smiled. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from your arresting grin.
The editorial disappeared into the distance and the colors behind my eyes died away.