“Are you hungry?” Laura asked.
“A little. It’s a little late.”
I was sitting on Laura’s bed with my back against the wall. Laura’s head was on my lap. She was facing up at me. I was running my fingers through her hair, sprawling curls out one by one over my leg and onto the comforter.
“Do you like carrots?”
“Okay.” Laura grabbed hold of my shoulders and lifted her face up to mine, kissed me, said,
She hopped off the bed (literally, I don’t know why anyone would want a bed raised so much,) grabbed her water bottle off her desk and walked out. I heard the click of a light switch and then the all-too sweet sound of opening a fridge. Her comforter was lime green, illuminated by soft yellow light from her desk lamp. The walls more resembled the light, blending in as a light washed-out beige. I noticed I was smiling, and I noticed that these were the glory days. Just above my head on the wall was a series of small colorful cloth squares strung along every foot or so, like clothes on a clothesline, their patterns folded in diverse ways along the wall, and I stared at those patterns and at one point reached up to feel the texture of the cloth. On my hand was a scrape that was healing, a souvenir from tripping while hiking the previous weekend. My soul hummed, oscillating and bending to fit harmoniously with the passing waves of time. In my chest was a beating heart.
Laura returned with a plate and set it on the desk so that she could jump up onto the bed. She reached over and brought the plate between us. Baby carrots unarranged on the ceramic, two separate dollops of hummus lay beside them.
I asked her, “Is one for you and one for me?”
She smirked a bit, and replied, “Well, um, yeah, I didn’t know if you liked sharing food. You know, ‘germs’. I mean, I don’t mind, you know, sharing food.”
Laura took a carrot and slid it into her mouth, chewing for a short while before staring back at me.
She kind of laughed while saying, “What?”
I said, “I just think we’re kind of passed that, by now. I mean we’ve…”
“Yeah, well.” She sighed, defeated.
“I just want you to know that my germs are your germs, and that your beautiful germs are my germs.”
“Thanks, Matt. You’re right. I’d even say our germs like each other.”
“Let’s just hope their mutant offspring don’t kill half of humanity in some devastating plague.”
“‘mutant offspring’ is no way to describe our grandchildren, Matthew.”
I lift the plate to emphasize the two distanced dollops of hummus, “You didn’t even want germ grandchildren until I brought it up.”
“Well, this is too much stress to put on our developing germ child.”
“I could play some Mozart.”
“You don’t like Mozart.”
“Yeah well only because Beethoven is one-hundred times better.”
“Matt, you know how I feel about this and we’re not having this fight again tonight. I don’t want to put Charlie through that.”
I said, “Oh, you named it now? Charlie’s an awful name for a germ-child.”
“Well it’s better than mutant offspring, Matt.”
“Actually, that’s debatable.”
Goddamn it inside of my heart I was screaming I love you so fucking much but I knew I couldn’t let those words slip out into the real world just yet. When you say I love you it doesn’t just travel through the air to the one you say it to. No, I love you, when spoken, travels from your mouth out into a stream of moments you’ve shared together, transforming into a blunt trauma of emotion by the time it travels upstream and reaches the person you said it to. But the words were young; fragile, and so I kept them locked inside there.
“These baby carrots are really good. Thank you for sharing them with me.” I said coyly.
“You know, Charlie’s our little baby carrot, in a way.”
“I’m really not talking about this anymore, Laura.”
She sat there finishing her baby carrots, then leaned down and placed the plate on the desk.
Laura sat back on the bed and leaned in close, “Hey. Do you want to listen to music?”
“Yeah, I do. Can I give you a backrub?”
“Do you really want to give me a backrub or do you just want me out of this shirt?”
“Both, all, I want all of it. But I do want to give you a backrub”
Laura had been good at playing hard to get, but by now her desires were starting to show regularly and that made me feel alive. The light from her fluorescent veins was growing brighter day by day and in the night the luminous roadmaps under her skin lit up beautifully soft and blue. Chopin’s Nocturnes was painting over the silence as my hands painted over Laura’s skin. Soft, warm, alive. I arched my back down and kissed the area between Laura’s shoulders. I love you so fucking much. Shh. The trees outside tapped their fingers against the glass. What a time to be alive.
I woke up pretty early the next morning, and I kissed Laura on her forehead before leaving for class.
“No…” She groaned, reaching a hand out towards me but I had to go and so I left.