We made out for the first time in a blue beanbag chair that was the only kind of chair that would fit into my tiny apartment, her mouth hard and hungry against mine, my hands fumbling down her back counting the knobs of her spine. She smelled like the book we’d been reading, an old rhetoric textbook by a peppery guy named Quackenbos that I’d found at a fire sale on behalf of the Seattle Public Library, that same heady mixture of old paper, dust and romance.
We were both taking a break from college but it was an oddly high school kind of relationship. We sat for hours in diners, drinking coffee and reading and talking about science fiction. One time we rented a cabin with four other kids, in Moclips or Ocean Shores or someplace like that, and while we drove through the Olympic rainforest she played a Savage Garden CD and wouldn’t let me hold her hand.
Her stepfather liked me fine before he realized we were dating, then started accusing me of using her to get to him with dark magics, which I didn’t take very well, both because I didn’t like the imputation that I was some kind of warlock and because that wouldn’t have worked anyway what with her not being directly related to him in the first place. She thought we were being childish but broke up with me anyway, that being easier than sneaking out of her parents’ house all the time. I ran into her mother later and asked about her and her eyes went dead. “She’s marrying her stepfather,” she said. “They’re going to move to New Mexico.”