We're sitting in Panini Panini I remember when we sat here maybe five or six years ago and you know what I felt exactly the same way then I completely want her but it's a different kind of wanting now now it's that I want her to hold me to be mine and not just because I don't have anyone not just because there's a black hole in my life a void this tangible destroyed wrecked place inside I feel like I have no connection to anything these days but in her presence I feel warmth. It's cold outside it's almost October I live in Chicago now I don't really have a job she's a school psychologist you should hear her talk about her kids she reminds me emphatically same way she did then but close enough she doesn't look older in a negative way just maybe more serious but there's still all the laughing the smiling the way we could be when we were in our early twenties. The lights darken around us outside like a thick curtain being unfurled. I want to reach out I want to say the right things and I can't shake the feeling like I'm losing like I'm not playing correctly and I don't know what she thinks about me but we spend a long time there maybe three hours and the conversation's good I'm a little reluctant to tell her my life sucks right now I have very little positive outlook these days there's something very reassuring about the way she looks at me the bluegreen seriousness of her eyes the freckles the lines around her eyes the redgrape tint her hair holds all of these things make me want to reach across the table grab her tell her I am in love with you it's been that way for a long time now I mean sure periodically I think of you there are also many weeks months even where I'm not thinking about you but right now I definitely am and I want to after we leave here and when we're back in your silver Civic zigzagging through the Sunday streets-you know I need your love you've got that hold over me as long as I've got your love you know that I'll never leave when I wanted you to share my life I had no doubt in my mind-why is she so beautiful why is she sitting here with those eyes that care about me like nobody else's sitting here touching me across the table without her hands at all sitting here with me having a chai tea why do I drain my coffee cup much faster than I should be. I remember this story I wrote about the last time we were here she smoked then and I didn't now I smoke and she doesn't but I'm not smoking right now.

Charles Blackstone