It was the end of the academic year, spring ripening toward
She circled the small dorm room, two, three, four times, her
eyes pausing to measure each object before passing on to the next. Her long hair was wrapped in a floral
bandanna, her face hot and dusty.
Finally she saw it, the last piece, long and rectangular, just
the right size to finish filling the box she was packing. Tucking it into the waiting space and folding
the lids shut, a small sigh, almost imperceptible, escaped her lips, “Perfect.”
* * *
Just over the hill, on the other side of campus, he strolled
into his room, leisurely, with the air of the sun and woods about him.
He began by piling one thing after another onto his unmade
bed, flinging them haphazardly into the middle of the sheet. Books, clothes, shoes, odds and ends, he
tossed them together onto the bed like someone making a pot of soup out of a week’s worth
of leftovers. Later, he would lift the sheet, gathering it in the middle and carry it all out to his car, slung over his shoulder like a hobo.
Having emptied every drawer, he finished by tossing himself
onto the bed and laying back to stare at the ceiling. A small, almost imperceptible sigh escaped
his lips, “Done.”
* * *
Stuck again, she picked up the phone to call and he answered,
“What are you doing?” she asks.
“Nothing,” he says.
“Really?” her voice rises, “You’re not doing anything?”
“Nope . . . just laying here on my bed . . . looking at the
ceiling,” he added, with ease.
“Are you thinking
about anything?” she asks, incredulous.
“Nope, nothing,” he adds, with an air of finality.
* * *
In a year they’re engaged and married six months later and
he moves into the small apartment where she waited for him to graduate. They share their first Christmas there and
buy a kitten who pees profusely on the carpeted floor.
When the lease is up they move together to a new place
which, of course, requires packing.
She sorts and circles while he piles and dumps. He tells her how he used to pack, thinking
the use of boxes shows he’s come a long way. She explains how every box is a chance for
Something about the distance between their methods seems humorous,
so they laugh, at themselves and each other.
And for once, she closes the box in front of her, taping it shut as it
is, perfectly imperfect.