subject line: the game player.


canton, georgia

He crept into that class room of that old university building with the autumn leaves that fall semester. He wore all black, and he picked the chair next to me. He never spiel, but he picked the chair next to me. He came in, sat down beside me, and then he was gone, just like those autumn leaves when summer came.

After just a few weeks, he stopped showing up to Art History. Somehow, I felt his absence. Until I was driving to a coffee shop, and I saw him. He was on the side of the road, reaching into the bed of his truck for a spare tire. And so it began.

He was the boy who came back.

He came back to this town, and to me that validated something: that things were worth coming back to.

And then I was sliding into the front seat of his new fast car, turning the dial on his radio and letting the wind suck my hair and the music out through the window.

I belonged to someone else, and he never belonged to anyone.

We were car rides in the spring and learning what trust looks like; we were late night talks where he told me how important it is to share your heart with people because he wanted to know mine; we were meet ups in parking lots just to scream at the sky about all the things that broke our hearts. These were the games we played. Touch and let go; I need you, but I don’t want you.

But things change. He never did, but things change.

He’s at my house at midnight, no headlights, like the Taylor Swift song. He tells me what he wants and what he needs and the life he walked away from. He’s got goals— big goals.

But he is scared.

I saw it there in my driveway at 1:30 in the morning. When he told me about his parents and asked me about my five year plan. I thought I knew him. I know him better than anyone else. How had I missed the fear?

With his arm around my waist, I breathed, “Finally.”

He was giving me something I could hold on to.

And he kissed me like he meant it up against the door of his fast car.

”Me and you?” He said. “Me and you weren’t made for this town.”

And then he was gone like the autumn leaves that float into the old buildings up at the old university.