We meet at the mall after four years apart. I see K— open the car door, begin to cross and close
the space between us, and the voice inside me tells me that I feel nothing.
With each second that passes, I think this: By the time he gets here, I will feel everything again.
But, when he does—when his hands touch my shoulder, the small of my back—my thoughts
My heart is just a muscle. Imagination is a muscle, too; one that must be exercised.
Constantly, around the clock. But this has never been a problem for me. I live in the crawl space between memories inside my own mind.
At night, after we part, I hear the pattering as Florida bugs dive at the screen protecting my
window. I do not open my blinds; I do not want to see them. More than that, I do not want them
to see me reflected a million times over in their kaleidoscopic eyes. I trick myself and say that
it’s the beginning of rainfall. That soft and quick sheen of sprinkles before the great deafening
rain of a South Florida summer.
It rained this way on my first night of college. I think back on my first night of living alone and
away from home, the air smelled heavy with storm scents: what I always thought of as stale
sweat and grass smells, but really it was oxygen and water, the weight of it hanging on our skin
as my roommates and I walked our new campus. K— was a bigger part of my life then, but even
in that moment I didn’t mention him.
Sometimes, even now, I wonder if the two of us are out there, living the life from the
photographs I hide in my journal. In some other reality—one that I would never normally believe in but I think of when I think about this—we might be working out. My mother always told me that it was easy to tell if you were in love. If you remember the way it feels to be wrapped inside that person’s arms. If you imagine that and it feels like they are here.
The following morning, we meet again for breakfast. At the airport, as he leaves again, my
shoulders are tight and my arms drag, helpless by my sides. In the moment, all I can think to say
is sometimes life gets in the way but I can’t remember if it’s a line I heard someone else say- maybe in a movie?—and so I close my mouth as he thanks me for the ride and promises to keep in touch.
But of course we don’t.
Of course this is the moment I will always be trying to figure out.
I drive home from the airport and it rains. Not the heavy rain that I hope for, but a careful drip-
dripping that gets in the way of thinking. I try to remember what that final goodbye felt like.
Gray t-shirt. Cotton. One small tear on the shoulder at the seam. Black duffel slouched on the
curbside. Engines idling; car horns ceaselessly blaring but so very faint.
About the Author: Rebecca Jensen received her MFA in creative nonfiction at Florida Atlantic University in 2017. She has served as fiction editor for Driftwood Press and Managing Editor for FAU's Coastlines. Her work appears in Crab Fat Magazine, Eunoia Review, FishFood Magazine, and others. Rebecca recently completed a writing residency at Sundress Academy for the Arts in this fall in Knoxville, TN.