I stay in my town for as long as I can. I call you with excuses of laundry and groceries. Things that are now a part of my life. Adult things and yet I do not feel like an adult, but more a child playing house. I take my time at the grocery store. Aisle by aisle, wondering aimlessly around, thinking of my life and what it is I am doing with it. I sip a coffee as I go, enjoying how something so simple can put me at ease. My cart is empty. Perhaps that is a metaphor. I think of you, miles away, the one I play house with. Content in knowing that I will make my way home tonight. Playing your games for hours on end, barely blinking, hardly aware. I wonder what you would do if I did not come home. If you’d watch the clock after the sun went down and begin to wonder if I was alright. Perhaps you’d tell yourself I was stuck in traffic. After another hour had passed and the sun had tucked itself in for the night, I wonder if you’d then begin to worry. If you’d bother to check your phone or give me a call. If it would be too much effort to send a text, after all that is what communication has come down to these days. A condensed message of meaningless letters and slang.
I see a man walking opposite me. His cart holds a head of lettuce, two red apples and a box of Corn Pops. I being to think of what his dinner will consist of tonight. He smiles at me and I smile back. He is handsome with a scruffy face. The kind you know would tickle your chin if he kissed you. We stand, reading the labels on salad dressings. There are twenty two different brand of Italian dressing. How would one ever choose? He acts as if he wants to say something. Or perhaps I am being ridiculous, but I begin to realize neither of us are in need of salad dressing. I become nervous with the encounter so I smile and leave the aisle. When I round the corner, my heart beat slows down again and I check my phone, nothing. You must have risen from your shiny screen to quench your thirst. Didn’t you wonder then where I was? I am in the last aisle when I realize my cart is the keeper of an empty coffee cup and a single can of soup. I pay for my soup, discard of my cup and head out the door to find a full moon glowing down on me. The biggest I have seen in years. I find a bench and sit, enjoying the first of many warm Summer nights. I think to myself how much you would like this moon, but I quickly regret thinking this. I know I care more about you than you do of me.
Suddenly I am not alone on the bench. The scruffy faced stranger hands me an apple and promises it isn’t poisoned. I laugh and take a bite. We sit in silence, enjoying the moon and I wonder what you would think of this. We exchange the usual chit chat, brief and light. His laugh is warm and it makes his cheeks turn a slight red. I want to know so much about him, but then I think of you. Sitting at home, staring into your own little world, hands clenched around a game controller. I thank him for the apple and tell him I must head home. He is caught off guard by my sudden exit, but he seems to understand. As I drive over the mountain and through the bright city lights, I think of you. Maybe you have been worried about me all this time and I feel guilty for enjoying a moonlit bench with a stranger.
As I unlock the door, I see you, illuminated by the glow of the television, staring intently into the screen. You say a quick hello, with not so much as a glance in my direction. I change into my pajamas, walk silently to the kitchen and heat up my single can of soup. I sit in the chair, staring up at the night sky and I think of him. The stranger with an apple. And I wonder if he is thinking of me too.