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Matters of the Heart

Four A.M.             

       Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on suitcase is a difficult feat. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person…

       I first met her at Heathrow Airport. She told me the upright bass was sexy, and I told her she was strange. But I couldn’t stop looking at her. One month later, on a tour of Oxford, she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. Two months later we went out for coffee. Three months later I told her I loved her. And three months and two weeks later, she told me the same thing.

       I’m not sure she’s my other half. But I know I don’t want her to leave. We are in her attic bedroom, which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. She’s packing her last suitcase, destined for Minneapolis, and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown Amherst, Massachusetts, the distance between her school, Boston College, and mine, Skidmore College, and yes, the tears pouring down her cheeks. I wonder when, and if, my tears will come. Outside her window, three floors down, a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom, I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom.” I have no idea what he means.

        Her flight departs the next evening, and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night, until four a.m. comes, and I have to walk her to a bus station. At two AM, and one bottle of wine later, she falls asleep. At three a.m., and two bottles of wine later, I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. At four a.m., still two bottles of wine later, I walk her to the bus station. “I’ll miss you,” she says. And tears stream down my face.

Alexander J. Theoharides, 22
Amherst, MA

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