“You see! I told you! It’s fun sitting in the middle of the road,” I say to Ryan as I sit across from him, indian style, in the middle of the street in front of my house. “Tara and I always meet here for our chats.”
This spot is midway between my house and Tara’s and we are certain of our cleverness, meeting here or on the roof of her garage to talk about boys.
“Oh, yeah,” Ryan answers, with a teasing grin, “As sitting goes, this is some particularly fun sitting right here.”
I smile back and swat his shoulder with the back of my hand.
“You can’t beat the view,” I say, leaning back on my arms and looking at the night sky, so clear in our little, out of the way, town that you can believe it’s possible to touch the stars.
He doesn’t say anything, but he’s looking at me, not at the stars.
“R and I broke up,” I say.
B was the last boy, now it’s R… or it was R, and now that’s over too. Try to keep up with the comings and goings of a fickle teenager.
“And here I thought that one was gonna last and last,” Ryan says with a fed up eye roll.
“Okay, I admit R and I are very different, but I was just trying to have ‘fun’.
Remember that all important element, oh wise one? Anyway, I still don’t regret my first kiss. R and I were heavy on the imperfection, but my first kiss was just as perfect as I always insisted it would be.”
“As it turns out, I’m not very interested in the details,” Ryan says, giving a piece of gravel a hard chuck against a far gutter with enough force to make a direct hit.
“Oh. Right. I get that. Hey- you kissed your girlfriend you know!”
“I did. You wanna hear all about it?”
“Gee, I’d like to, but I’m busy clawing the tar off the road with my bare fingernails so that I can stuff it into my ears.”
The corners of his mouth turn up, chasing all sarcasm from his face.
“Aren’t you glad that we can talk to each other?” I ask, “And do the fun sitting in the middle of the road? I’m glad we haven’t ruined this.”
“What do you mean, ‘ruined it’?” he asks.
“Well, it’s not like I’ll be sitting anywhere, fun or otherwise, with R anymore. In fact, if R were to be found sitting in the middle of the road somewhere I’d hope I was behind the wheel of a nearby vehicle.” I could hear the engine revving now.
“I’m done with boyfriends for awhile,” I continue. “I drew a picture of a heart with a lock on it and a thick brick wall wrapping all of the way around it and a whole bunch of famous quotes about heartbreak and I hung it up on my bedroom wall.”
Ryan isn’t laughing when he says, “Really. Wow, that’s… funny.”
“Oh, I know. Heartbreak is a real chuckle,” I say.
“Heartbreak isn’t a chuckle. The idea that you’ll lock up your heart is. I don’t think your particular heart can be restrained.”
I risk a look into his blue eyes. I think about dancing in the snow. I think about a summer spent laughing and talking. I think about church dances, his hands on my waist, my arms around his neck. I think about this warm fall night, “fun sitting” in the middle of the road, under a dark sky, sprinkled generously with glittering stars. I think about how I’ll say goodnight soon and go in my house, leaving him with nothing more than a friendly wave.
“You’d be surprised,” I say.