He smiled. “They’ll say we’re crazy.”
“I’m quite certain,” I told him, chomping down on a fry, “that they already do.”
Outside, the parking lot had emptied, and the employees swung the door gate shut behind us. It was quiet, the muted sound of the city overlaid by a steady trickling of water on brick, near us. A leaky air conditioner that was as good as a waterfall.
“I’m not ready to go back yet,” I told him. The night was sticking to our skin, patches of damp, warm humidity. I tucked Anne Frank in one hand, and his into my other as we walked towards the back street, a tree throwing shadows on the warm pavement. “Live oak,” he told me, reaching up to touch the branch. “Look at its petals.”
I did not think it was possible to love a person more for a small mix-up of nouns – but I did, as I fingered the delicate leaves. The streetlights bathed us in orange as we looked for the source of a heady scent that drifted past every few seconds – a citrus tree, fussed over by unwieldy bumblebees.
The chain links gleamed, and my hand brushed across the purple flowers draped languidly against the fence. He spun me twice, thrice – no even numbers. A group of young boys on bikes rode past us, yelling dares at each other, red taillights blinking.
We left the windows down all the way back, brows and backs of necks dewed by the air, Pat Benetar singing to us on the radio. Neon signs flashed intermittently in the small towns we passed through, and in the dark distance, small oaks silhouetted themselves against the glow of a big city to the west.