You sat at the bar. I was a couple of minutes late, as usual.
You looked at your phone. I opened the door. You glanced up at that moment.
It might have been my imagination, but your grey eyes lit up when you grinned.
I walked in and headed straight to you.
We hugged. The bartender smiled.
I ordered a beer.
You signaled that my drink was on your tab.
I asked about your commute. You asked me about packing.
We relaxed. It was quiet for a moment.
It was comfortable.
We caught up on the day.
We told silly jokes. We laughed.
We turned to each other.
You told me about your upcoming fishing trip.
I described my upcoming writer’s retreat.
We finished the beers.
I walked outside.
You settled the bill.
You gave me a t-shirt with the brewery logo.
I thanked you.
We held hands and stepped off the patio.
We took your car to the grocery store.
We giggled like little kids in the deli section.
We picked out dinner, a Wisconsin specialty. Brats.
We walked to the liquor store for more beer.
We drove to your house.
Your dog greeted us, all puppy enthusiasm, muscles, and expressive ears.
You built a fire in the basin of your grill in the backyard.
I teased you.
You lit the fire.
I sat back, in a blue dress, petting your sweet puppy.
We watched the sky.
The fire warmed us on a rare cool summer night.
You fashioned tree branches into grilling sticks.
We roasted brats over the fire.
We were distracted by the shooting stars of the meteor showers of August.
We ate enthusiastically and unapologetically from sticks and chuckled at our summer feast.
We gazed at the fire and found peace in the flames and sparks.
The sky turned darker and the wood burned down to embers.
The large pile of firewood shrank to twigs and scraps of bark.
We were silent. The pops and cracks from the fire punctuated the night.
The fire burned down, the night became morning, the summer diminished.
We held on for a brief moment, a few weeks.
We found summer.
You grabbed your keys, folded down your collar, and headed down the highway to work.
I put the last box in my car. I looked up at the trees.
The train screeched on the tracks around the corner.
I lingered and took a deep breath.
I opened the car door.
I slid the seat forward and my sunglasses slipped.
I straightened my blue t-shirt, the brewery logo reflected in the rearview mirror.
We were like the campfire, a brief intersection of two flickering flames.
In that moment we found healing.
We helped each other to dust off our hearts.
We helped each other get ready for the next, to prepare for real love.
Then there was goodbye.
My mind turned to my new home, the direction of my heart, a dear friend, school, writing, running, and teaching.
Your mind moved to work, your friends’ upcoming visit, making a home, fishing, and the dream of someone new.
I drove to New Mexico to begin.
I remembered what you said, “I’m glad we gave this a go.”
A summer, a fire, a go.