Before New York

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 / 11:38 PM


Under the broken floor lamp by the living room window, I held out my right pinky. “Wanna make that a promise?”

He switched his drink from his right to left hand and hesitated.

“You don’t make promises?” I asked, swaying briefly from the last sip.

In an instant, he gripped my pinky with his. I smiled and started to pull away, but he held on tighter. “Bite your thumb,” he said.

“What?”

“You have to bite your thumb, or else it doesn’t count.” He stuck his thumb out and leaned forward. In the background, the scratching of the record player became more noticeable as Side A came to an end.

I raised a skeptical brow, but complied. When we let go, I laughed. Was that how it was supposed to work? And who would hold us accountable?

“Is there a deadline for this?” I asked.

He looked up at the popcorn ceiling. “February,” he decided.

I nodded. February.

"If" became "when" as the night wore on, and the plan became a map before I could question it. But what if I broke it, I wondered? This felt too familiar, only now I wasn't the one staring at the ceiling making promises.

February gave us 2 months. It was enough for him to find an out, but I knew he had more faith than I did.

"How do you know?"

“Because,” he said, as someone finally flipped the record on the player, “we bit our thumbs.”

The music continued, a new song began.

The next morning, a text: "We'll be the kind of people who run into each other in Central Park."

In the years that followed after it all ended, we never did – but it was a nice thought at the time.

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