eugene cemetery



I knew she wanted me to leave, even though she kept saying, No, stay.

I should really go, I said.

We can walk to the Saturday Market, she said. It’ll be fun.

I guess the first sign came from the night before, in her bed which smelled like old, clean sheets she had just pulled from the linen closet, in a good way, like I was in my own bed, like the sheets had been around for years and you were comforted by the way they touched your skin.

So after sex, we were talking, and then she started to get drowsy and was about to fall asleep in my arms when I noticed across the room on her desk, she had a lamp that was lit.

Underneath the light was an apple core, browned and withered.

I knew that she was trying to say something. Even if she didn’t notice what her unconscious was up to, she had left that core there, because it represents sexual desire (you know, Temptation? Original sin?), and the withered core is symbolic for the disappointment one feels after attaining what or who it was they desired.

We had wanted to sleep together.  Both of us were very clear on that, no attachment, so the night before, when we left the MEChA party where we had met and headed back to her place, we knew what was going to happen.

My roommates are out of town, she said, as she opened the door. Miranda and Julio.

A couple?

No. They hardly know each other. My point is, both of them are gone.


The fact that she left that apple core was her way of telling me that she was serious when she said “no attachments.” I was sure it was a consciously placed symbol, as she was a brilliant scholar, getting her PhD in psychology. She knew about symbols.

Right after the “deed,” she wanted me to leave.

I would have gotten up out of the sheets, but she fell asleep in my arms, and then I fell asleep, too.

It was nice.


When I woke up she was gone.

The sun was coming through the white curtains. I could hear birds singing outside, in the cherry trees behind her building.

I stood up, looked for my clothes, and left the bedroom.

She was in the kitchen, sitting at the table, looking out the window, holding a white cup of coffee with both hands as if she were drinking hot chocolate around a campfire. The morning light made her brown skin glow in her white pajamas. She made such a peaceful figure staring at the window, like a woman in a Vermeer painting, and I didn’t want to interrupt, because it was very clear to me that she was more at peace without  me than with me. She didn’t want to be disturbed, and that was confirmed by how she reacted when I said good morning, standing in the hallway.

Oh! she said as if coming out of a restful trance. Good morning! Do you want some coffee?

I told her no, that I should be going.

No. Stay, she said.

Then I noticed another very clear message that she wanted me to leave.

I had a watch.

I don’t know why I still wore one, nobody needed them anymore, but still, I had one, an Omega Speedmaster, a watch that was supposed to be expensive. It was a gift from somebody from my past, and I had been wearing it for years.

Last night, when we ended up in her bed, I took off the watch off and put it on the nightstand.


But there it was now under the full light of the kitchen.

She had intentionally taken it from the nightstand and put it on the counter as if to say it was time for me to go.

But here’s the thing: Next to the Omega was a cutting board and knife.

There were no vegetables or meat on the cutting board, just the knife, as if the only thing nearby to be to cut was my watch, clearly telling me — I’d have to be a fool not to see this –that she would like to take my watch, which represents time, specifically time with me, and chop it up so she would have the opportunity to have only a small slice.

She had intentionally and with forethought took it out of the bedroom and put it there specifically to say, Our time together is over.


So I told her I had to leave.

No, no! she said. Why don’t we spend the day together? Julio and Miranda won’t be back until tomorrow.

She smiled.

But I knew what was behind that smile.

We can walk to the Saturday Market, she said. It’ll be fun.


So in spite of what I knew to be true, I stayed. We had coffee and then we walked downtown, through the Pioneer cemetery next to the university. It was beautiful, the paths were lined by enormous pine trees, old tombstones like in a haunted house movie, and the sun through the trees colored everything a soft orange, including her face. I kept looking at her, and then she would see me looking, and she would look at me, and we would keep looking at each other until we laughed.

When we got to the Saturday Market, it was already exploding with sound and people and the smell of patchouli oil and wax. She bought some candles for me, and I bought her some earrings. I had wanted to get her tiny elephants made of solid steel, but I thought the symbol was too sappy, as if I were saying, An elephant never forgets, and I’ll never forget you, so instead I got her triangles.

We tried on hats at the hat vendor, fedoras, derbies, panamas. She looked good in all of them. I hated the way I looked in hats, how it made my face look as round as a clock in a classroom.

Then we sat in an outdoor café and drank mimosas, and I couldn’t help but think how much I wanted to smell those sheets for another night.

But as I looked at the candles she had bought me, I realized all of them were votive, which last a couple of hours at most. The flame died out quick.

She wanted to let me know this wouldn’t last.

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