Spring Digression

A weekend of scattered memories is past.

Originals

We sat in the sun on a new bench in an ancient courtyard, she and me, bubble wrap between us.

“Customs never looked in the packet, which made my flight.” I still knew her voice so well, almost flat, with a slight, sardonic arch in the dipthong. We had been lovers last time. I had no idea what we were now. I didn’t think she did either.

“They aren’t looking for Oreos. The fools.” She held the packet open, offering me her smuggled treasures. I peered, unsure, until she handed me one. I held the cookie like a mythical gem, a fragment of far away. “Chocolate cream now? Decadent. Soon Rome will fall.”

She looked up at the piller towering over us, facing the ruined goddess, eating an Oreo. She crunched for an age, then spoke as if continuing an old conversation, which she was. “He didn’t work out.”

I studied the cookie. I knew what I was supposed to say. I left the cookie untouched. “I sort of assumed that. Shame. All that impressive meat gone to waste.” My voice was Thufir Hawat sleek. It felt good. The cookie was beautiful in it’s hard, dark roundness.

She winced a little and ate another cookie with loud, showy aplomb. “Sort of scummy to hold a girl’s emails against her. He was OK for then.”

I shrugged, watching, tracing the curve of the cookie in my palm. “All’s fair…and you made such a fuss about that once you got back.” The crumbs clinging to her lips made them look all the softer. Cookies and coral. She licked her lips. I remembered her astride my lap on the last day, whispering that she still had more she needed to feel. Her fingers had fumbled with her buttons and hooks, as if she had been wearing a stranger’s clothes.

Tourists strolled past us, stopped to read the legend silently, pretended to really see the Roman column, the fractured goddess, then moved on feeling more cultured for the gesture. The irony was not lost on either of us. I watched them move towards Assyrian Mosaics, murmuring to each other eruditely.

She took another Oreo, her breathing a little forced…and she smiled thinly, a moment broken, a tension accepted, never to be fully resolved. “Will you come meet my roommate later? I think she’ll be a lot of fun.”

I nodded and smiled, at once relieved and regretful that the moment had already passed, terrible in it’s complexity.

She dug for her little jar of lip balm, and spoke into her knapsack. “I really loved you….”

“I know…”

I bit the cookie, immediately missing the flavor I remembered. I remembered the taste of overpriced apricot lotion on the inside of her thigh, the salt in her dark hair, her absurd strawberry lip balm. Sometimes, the memory of the original should remain.

We sat in the sun on a new bench in an ancient courtyard, she and me, bubble wrap between us…and then we followed a tour group into Mosaics.

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