Missing

We’re sitting on a sofa in the camper on a perfect spring night. There’s a steady breeze blowing off the lake. The generator is out of gas so we’re running off of battery-powered electronics – my iPod and his speakers. There’s a lantern on the table giving off a soft yellow glow. He puts me in charge of music. I’m not even sure what he listens to. We’ve only gone out a handful of times and this trip to the lake was a last-minute decision. My parents have no idea where I am. I have a friend who knows I’ve gone camping and who I’ve gone with. She’d be able to find me if there was an emergency. But I’m not worried about that. I’m not worried about much of anything but what to play. I find a playlist I made several years before. It’s good late-night music, quiet, introspective, easy to talk over.

The third song is “Missing.” “I like this,” he says. I get up and switch from the playlist to the album that the song is on. “I like this too,” I say. I sit back down.

I feel like I’m supposed to say something about how I discovered the band or how long I’ve had the album but I don’t want to prattle on mindlessly about my life in 1994 or how this has always been cold weather music. In 1994 I was an insecure 19 year-old who listened to this in my dorm room alone late at night. I’m past that now. No need in bringing it up tonight. I say nothing. We sit in silence and listen. In a way it’s nice to sit with someone and not feel like you have to say something.

He’s leaning up against the wall with his feet up on the cooler. I’m sitting cross-legged on the other end of the sofa. Really, it’s more like a loveseat. We are close but not touching. I want to lean over and rest my head on his shoulder. I want him to put his arm around me and for us to continue listening.

“Lean over,” my mind says. “He invited you here because he wants to be here with you.”

My body refuses to move.

“Lean over, dammit. Put your head on his shoulder. That way he’ll know you like him.”

I’ve leaned over before as a 19 year-old so that the object of my affection would know I liked him. He moved away. Maybe I’m not past all that now after all.

“Lean over,” my mind says a third time.

My body refuses to move. This is cold weather music and I am frozen.

I look around absently at everything in the camper – the floor, the table, the wall. I look out the window at the lake. It is a beautiful spring night. There’s enough of a moon to see the water through the trees. The breeze has picked up and you can hear it blowing through the open windows. We didn’t need the generator anyway because the weather is perfect. Everything is perfect. Everything but me, I guess.

I glance over after about 20 minutes and see that he’s dozed off. I’m wide awake, adrenaline pumping through my veins like I’m about to take the biggest test of my life. I sit perfectly still and continue to listen until the music runs out. The absence of sound wakes him up.

“I guess we should go to bed,” he says. I nod my head, silently agreeing with him. It is after midnight. He lets me have the better bed while he sleeps in the cubby in the back. I lay on my back looking through the vent in the roof, watching the wind blow through the trees above until I finally fall asleep.

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