The young couple had left the city in the late afternoon. They found a quiet spot in the valley to spread out a blanket. They ate, drank, and made love; afterwards, they laid back to watch the clouds.
“What would you do if I were gone?”
The boy was nearly asleep when the girl asked, so he didn’t answer at first.
She repeated the question.
He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her tight. “Not sure. You going somewhere?”
“No, but if I did, what would you do?”
“Would you do anything differently?” she asked.
“I guess I wouldn’t be in this field.”
He smiled, but she clasped his hand and asked again.
“I’d probably have moved away by now.”
“You don’t like the city?”
“I do. But I’m curious about what else is out there.”
She fell quiet, picked a clover stem, and rolled it between her fingers.
“Do you think that about us?”
“What? That we should leave?”
“No. That you if I wasn’t around, you’d see what else was out there?”
He yawned and stretched and cradled his head with his arm. “No. Not at all.”
“You never wondered?”
“Not in the least.”
She sniffed the flower before tossing it aside. She watched a cloud shaped like a wine cup move across the sky.
“I have,” she said.
He lifted his head. “About others?”
She nodded once.
He lowered his head and never moved after that. She listened to his heartbeat and felt his chest rise up and down.
She rolled over and put her hand on his stomach. “Are you okay?” she asked.
“It’s not that I would.”
“But you’ve thought about it.”
“I suppose so, yes.”
“Probably. Yes. At some time.”
He rolled against her, and she had to shift her head against his ribs to get comfortable again.
“Of course not.”
“I don’t know...”
“A few weeks? Months?”
“I hadn’t thought about it that much.”
He slid out from under her and sat up.
She stared up at the clouds again. The cup had dissolved into a shapeless cushion. She laid her hand on his back, and, at first, he pulled away, but she kept it there, unmoving.
“It was only if you were gone—“
“It’s the fact you considered it.”
“But you’re here now. With me.”
“But what about—?“
“No. Right now, I’m yours.”
She pulled herself up and wrapped her arm around him. She held him tight until his hunched back relaxed, and he turned to face her. He’d been crying.
“Sorry. it’s just—“
“You don’t have to explain.”
He hugged her, and they kissed. He suggested they go back to town, and she agreed. He packed up their remaining food while she folded the blanket. She stared out the window at the setting sun as they drove back to town. She’d have to break up with him, but she’d wait at least a week before she did it.
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