Last Call

We’re lying on our backs, staring up at the night sky.

“I’m cold,” she tells me. Arms crossed, I lean towards her on my shoulder to face her.

Do you want my shirt? I’m sorry, I say, but I’m not wearing anything extra that I can give her. And now that I can see her, I’m not exactly thrilled to see that she’s already wearing a sweater. I had forgotten—so, apparently, had she.

“No,” she says stiffly, crossing her arms now too.

She’s pissed. I don’t think it’s because she’s cold at all. It’s probably because I’m leaving tomorrow night for a small island six thousand or so miles away. Assuming the issue, I tell her that I’ll be back soon enough.

“Next Christmas is not soon enough,” she replies. My mistake. The bartender—her friend—yells out to us that it’s ten o’clock, last call. The fact that we’ll only be seeing each other for a few more minutes now until December 2012 probably doesn’t help.

Changing the subject, I ask her again why we’re lying down.

“To see the stars. Why do you think we came up here?” she responds, playfully pushing me, rolling me back over. I stare up, only I can’t see any stars. I see a black sky with a white glow from the city seventy stories below us. We’re at the Rockefeller Plaza Rooftop Bar. On the floor, because she knows the bartender and there’s no one else here on a Sunday night and we were lucky enough that it didn’t rain or snow tonight.

It doesn’t mean it’s not freezing. I tell her I can’t see any stars. I sit up and finish my beer and walk to the edge of the building, looking out over the horizon where lights stretch in every direction, indefinitely. Cars flow along brightly lit avenues that span the length of the city below us like white fluorescent blood veins. Realizing she’s alone, she stands up and joins me, almost to the edge.

“It’s not fair. There’s nothing to do there, I don’t know what you’re going back to.”

I laugh, an instinct more than anything else. Well, there’s my life back there, I tell her. There’s always that. She rolls her eyes and tells me I could make a life here. I shrug and tell her that from that logic, I could technically carve out something for myself anywhere. This comment she doesn’t like either, worse than the star one. I think she thought that coming up here would be romantic. I can’t feel my toes.

“I don’t mean to give you an ultimatum,” she begins, “but I won’t wait for you forever.”

I apologize and say that I’m not asking anything of her. She frowns. Then, bizarrely, smiles.

“Don’t give me that. If you really hated it, you wouldn’t be here. With me, in the cold.”

I take her hand. No, I say, I don’t hate it at all. I smile too, so now we’re both smiling. I add that she gives off a lot of heat, which helps offset the cold, and I always appreciate free alcohol—which also helps. Now, she’s not smiling anymore for some reason. We’re also no longer holding hands—she’s storming off, towards the door to the roof.

The wind picks up and she yells at me something. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it sounds suspiciously like the word, ‘choose.’

Staring back at her, I blink a couple of times. And for the first time the entire month here, I really give some thought to everything she wants. It all flashes before my eyes, as if I’m dying and seeing my entire life. And for a moment, I don’t know what to decide to do or say. But she chooses for me when she yells back that Hawaii’s got nothing in comparison to everything in front of me.

It’s only a ten-hour flight home.

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  1. appleblossum says:

    wow. I love how this ended 🙂 it was nice meeting you today. can't wait to read what you'll write next.

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