Five Card Story: his week. and mine too

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a Five Card Flickr story by daisy created Feb 10 2021, 09:41:26 pm. Create a new one!

flickr photo credits: (1) krutscjo (2) bionicteaching (3) Serenae (4) Serenae (5) bionicteaching

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Monday morning. He texts me as I’m watering my hanging plants and the sun is shining down through my apartment windows. I smile as I see it, and then I’m mad at myself for smiling. How embarrassing it is having feelings. I read his message: “Lunch today?” Simple, but enough to awaken the butterflies in my stomach. They flutter up to my throat as I respond, a few minutes later, “Sure, did you have a place in mind?” Not too clingy, or too desperate, or too needy. At least I hope it’s not. He tells me about this coffee place on Citrus Ave he likes; it has Edison lights and plants and big windows. Typical of him. I smile and we agree to meet there at noon for lunch. He wants to share this place he likes with me. We met, exactly on time, outside of the restaurant. He grins at me, I grin at him and look away. “Hey,” we both say at the same time, and laugh nervously. He opens the door for me and we go in, the warmth inside welcome from the cold. He orders a black coffee breakfast sandwich that has cilantro on it and he tells me how he doesn’t pick it out of the sandwich, even though he has the gene that makes it taste like soap. I laugh; he laughs, we look down into our laps. We don’t check our phones. I order a cup of tea and a panini. We talk and lose track of time. We see that it has gotten darker outside and the waitstaff is looking at us, smiling, murmuring. I’m sure they’re talking about us. I offer to pay, but he insists. We leave. We walk, hands barely brushing against each other, close, breathing in sync, down the street. He points out his favorite stores, the places he used to work, a funny license plate. I breathe it all in. He looks at me and asks if I’m listening. I am - I apologize. I was looking at him, lost in him, letting the moment seep into my memory. He asks me about what I’m doing tomorrow; I tell him not much. He asks if I want to do anything. On Monday, we walked down the street.

Tuesday afternoon. He picks me up at the front of my apartment building and he drives us to his small apartment in the suburbs. We don’t stop talking the entire car ride. He tells me about what he did last night, what show he watched, what music he listened to. And I tell him mine. We talk about nothing, but it’s everything. We don’t talk about what happens when you die, we talk about what our childhood pets were like and what our favorite times of day are and our least favorite teachers and how our siblings are doing. We pull into his driveway and get out of the car. He opens my door for me and I step out. He brings me around the back of the house to his garden, which he technically isn’t allowed to have but the landlord lets it slip. He kneels down in the dirt - in his nice pants, too - poking and prodding at the dirt. He loves these plants. I briefly think about what it would be like if he loved me even a little bit the same as those plants. But I push the thought out of my head, I lock it up in a box, tape it shut, watch it zoom silently down the conveyor belt in my mind. How embarrassing it is having feelings. I pull myself back into the moment, watching him smile at his garden. And it is beautiful - you can tell he spends a lot of time on it. I picture him out here, dirt on his hands, spade next to him, planting seeds and patting the dirt down. He shows me the lilacs - his favorites. How are you doing? he asks. I start to answer before I realize he’s not talking to me. We laugh. He gives me a few lilacs to take home with me. Now I’ll always have a piece of what he loves, as long as I take care of them well. I try my best. On Tuesday, we saw purple flowers.

Wednesday afternoon. I know he is new to the city and I offer to show him around. He agrees, and we meet at a new coffee shop. We pick up muffins - for him blueberry, me lemon poppyseed, we joke that it’s a deal breaker - and coffee and tea. We stroll, in no rush. In the back of my mind is the thought that this must end eventually, I will have to go home to my apartment alone, he will retreat to his little apartment in a house on Fig Street. He has a roommate to talk to. I don’t. But these moments we’re spending together, they’re not about what our future looks like, they’re not about what we’re going to do when we get home. I start to lag behind a little, and he playfully grabs my hand to get me to catch up. I don’t let go and neither does he. It’s nice. I lead him to the bridge in the middle of the city. By now, the sun is setting and we’re talking about getting dinner. But I stop, he looks at me, and I turn to the sky. He looks at the sunset, colors spreading across the sky. Gold, bronze, tender yellow, deep orange. Then he looks at me, eyes gentle. I know he’s saying thank you. I give him the smallest smile back. Then he grins. And I grin. How embarrassing it is having feelings. We turn back, still hand in hand, breathing the same. The sunset seems to smile back at us. On Wednesday, we stood on the bridge and looked at the sunset.

Thursday morning. He meets me outside my building and surprises me with a muffin from the coffee shop. Lemon poppyseed - I’m not surprised that he remembered. I smile and unwrap it. I pick sections of the muffin off and eat it as we walk down the street. I realize I don’t know where he’s taking me. I ask him - and he realizes he doesn’t know where we’re going either. He thought I was leading him. I thought he was leading me. That seems like it’s going to be our thing. But I like walking with him. Walks feel different, almost better, with no destination or plan. I finish my muffin and throw away the wrapper. He takes my hand and I smile. He smiles. We smile at each other. He says I have a crumb on my lip and I watch, as if in slow motion, he reaches up and ever-so-gently rubs his thumb across my lip, brushing it off. I still wonder if there was even a crumb. I’m embarrassed and he says it’s okay. We look at each other, I look away, he takes my hand again and squeezes it. How embarrassing it is having feelings. We hear cheering and shouting and glance at each other - want to go this way? We wander, together, towards the noise. It’s happy noise; it’s a celebration. It’s how I feel on the inside. I wonder if that’s how he feels too. I lock that thought up and watch it disappear down the conveyor belt. I see it first - costumes, signs, smiles. People are excited about something. There are photographers there. I know he likes to take pictures too, and he’s not obnoxious about it. I can tell that he wishes he had his camera; he wants to capture this moment. This moment in time that we’ll never get back. This reality - our perception of this reality - will never exist again. He takes out his phone and takes a picture of the photographers. Not of the celebration. He likes the irony, he explains to me. Of course he does. He then tells me to smile. Without hesitation or thinking, I do. He takes a picture of me. He says that now he’ll always have something to remember me by when we’re not together. I tell him about his lilacs, which are still thriving on my kitchen counter. He tells me he’d like to see them sometime. I smile, and he says he’s serious. One day, I tell him. It ends up being a few hours later, us eating dinner in my small apartment. I hadn’t had a chance to clean but he says it’s okay, this feels natural, this is the real you. And he is right. Messy, disorganized, but not dirty. Cozy, he says. On Thursday, we had a moment taking a picture of a picture being taken.

Friday night. We meet again at the coffee shop to watch an open mic night. His friend is performing his latest set of poems - they’re about his brother. I say they’re really good. He agrees, he’s not much of a poem person but he likes his. He smiles at me and takes my hand under the table. I put my other hand on his knee to stop it from bouncing up and down. He looks embarrassed but we laugh. We share a plate of fries. I talk him into putting the ketchup on the side of the plate instead of drizzling it over all the fries. It doesn’t take much convincing. He leaves the small, crispy ones for me, and I let him have the big ones. How perfectly that works out, he says, as we share the ketchup on the side of the plate. But now he says that’s how he’ll have ketchup from now on - on the side of the plate. I think to myself that maybe he’ll think of me when he does quickly that thought got boxed up and sent away. How embarrassing it is having feelings. I wonder what he’s thinking about. And then he asks me - can I walk you home? And we say goodbye to his friend. Is this her? his friend asks. He looks at me, embarrassed, mouth open, eyebrows raised, but I smile. And then he smiles too. And it’s okay. We walk out the door, huddled up in our coats. He puts his arm around me, both of us shivering. We laugh. Bearing the cold is easier with someone else. We get to the outside of my building. I realize that we have spent the whole week together. I know he’s thinking about it, too. And I know what he’s going to do next - can I kiss you? Yes, I say, breathlessly, evenly, confidently, wonderfully, and he does. Maybe it’s not so embarrassing having feelings. On Friday, we went to a coffee shop to see a poet.

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flickr photo credits: (1) krutscjo (2) bionicteaching (3) Serenae (4) Serenae (5) bionicteaching

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