Remember that night we carved our names into pumpkins? Yours looked incredible with the candle inside. Mine caved, burned itself away, down to the cement. I guess my name is too long. And you always had steadier hands.
We took a drive that night, shot too fast out of the rutted, pitted streets we knew into the shade of tall, stone buildings we looked up and imagined ourselves on top of. We ran that night, like we wanted to wear the bottoms of our shoes out. We had to catch our breath over and over. Amber’s coat ripped on that fence she tried to climb. Fry caught a falling leaf on fire, playing with his lighter. We stomped it out, laughing uncontrollably, right before that cop came by and told us to go home.
So we went to the river, and watched the shadows darken on the rocks. We got quiet, sitting in the dimming warmth of the sun as it set. Even though we feared quiet, that night we didn’t mind it. It felt like a photograph. Jeff’s braces. Fry’s hair buzzed. Amber’s eyes teary with glee. And you, still talking about the smell of burnt pumpkin.
I was the last one in the bed of the truck, on purpose. I wanted just you and I lying on our backs back there. I wanted to look up when the sun was gone, the stars were dim, and the streetlights shone the same dismal yellow-orange the old wallpaper in your house turned to in the corners. You handed me a bunch of pumpkin seeds. I started wishing I had brought a sweatshirt. I wrapped myself up in some old rug.
Then everyone sang. I took some blurry pictures of the sky. And you fell asleep. We must have driven for hours. I heard three sirens. Then I couldn’t feel my fingertips. When you helped me out of the truck and walked with me to my front door, my teeth were chattering. Still, I was hesitant to admit good night.
The city felt like ours that night, much more than others. And what I knew, looking at you, at Amber, at Jeff, at Fry — what I didn’t want to know but I felt, closing the front door and locking it up — what I realize even more now, knowing where I am, looking ahead — is we’re not getting many more of those.