by Katie Jansen

Our plans are not like a couple’s. As we lie naked under your comforter and talk about the future, the questions raised are not where we will move after I graduate or when we will get a dog. I always thought I was okay with this. It has always been clear: the future is unclear for both of us. I thought I could live here, in the now. With you.

I assumed I would be fine, bidding you adieu when the time came. But as you send off law school applications one by one, I picture you scattered in any corner of the southeast while I am God-knows-where. I wonder if you will still text me just because, regardless of where we’re both living. It’s healthy to have our own ambitions, I realize that. But I also realize that maybe I’m kidding myself; maybe I want to support your goals along with my own.

Things that scare us are more approachable in the dark, so we always wait to talk about the future until after sex. There is never much to talk about, not in the way of a joined future, anyway. Afterward, we always move on to something philosophical to lighten the mood. This time it is life and death.

Then we get up and put our clothes back on and drive to Wendy’s. It’s the only thing open all 24 hours of the day. As we sit in the drive-thru and wait for the loudspeaker to crackle to life, there is a fender bender behind us. We watch in the rearview mirror, discreet and nosy.

“Should I get out?” you wonder.

“No,” I say. “You’re not even involved.”

“But aren’t we, like, implicated? As witnesses?”

I want to remind you you’re not a lawyer yet, that you don’t have to take on every potential case you see. I want to tell you to stay here and tell me that story again about the guy you waited on that pitched a fit about his buttered vegetables, or listen to me complain about my thesis. “They probably just have to swap insurance information,” I say. The sentence sounds dry, boring, logical.

We get our food and you drive to a parking lot across the street to eat. Across the way there is a coffee shop with one string of lights on its front porch.

“Best view in this small town,” you joke, and as I look over at your profile half-illuminated in the light, I think maybe you are right.

As I am sorting through fries and chicken sandwiches and handing you half the spoils, you won’t stop talking about the fender bender. “I mean, it’s crazy,” you say. “What was he thinking? Did he not see him there?”

“He was probably drunk,” I say. I am tired of hypotheticals for tonight.

“I’m glad it wasn’t us,” you say. “I feel like I dodged a bullet.” You’re only joking, of course, but when you look at me something about it is true. We are not dying, or getting jobs or going off to school, just yet. We are here, basking in the glow of Christmas lights, and we have a little time left to spend together.


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