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    We fought so hard Teddy told me
    to pull over on the highway so he could get out.
    Why pop musicians use children’s voices
    in their songs was what we were fighting about.
    I asked him why he thought they did.
    “Huh,” he said, “I never thought about that.”
    “You never thought about that?” I asked, really asking,
    “Why haven’t you ever thought about anything?”
    and really saying, “You’ve been all your life
    so talented and beautiful you’ve never had to
    think.” He almost moved to Iowa with me.
    Instead, from our collective existence blessed
    by natural gifts, erupted miseries we are still kept
    apart and from our better labors by. Teddy’s
    disregard for health and even sometimes
    life itself inspires me. He could do anything
    but likes to fail, so though his presence
    creates expectation, no one expects of him
    more than he’s willing to give. He saves the time
    he doesn’t spend for the musician he will be
    or is, as I suspect we have by now become
    what we always thought we were
    working toward. Teddy made me feel
    I could do anything. He told me
    if I’d picked up the cello young enough
    I’d have been better than him.
    That’s a picture of our love then,
    mine usurped by Teddy’s obsession,
    the healthy part of which, his admiration,
    changed me irreversibly. Now Teddy
    admires no one, which is the first step
    toward real humility. “Of course
    I think I’m better than you,” he said to
    but not of me. He said it as part of a story.
    We had been walking with sweating iced teas
    but stopped to sit on the small side steps of
    the Ukrainian Catholic Church with gold mosaics.
    He described his latest breakup and breaking in
    to his ex’s house to steal back the mandolin
    she stole from him. With me, he never even
    got out of the car. Teddy had a white van
    that smelled like Serenity, an essential oil blend
    “someone gave me” and that before the ride
    home he applied to my wrists and neck.
    “I just think if that if anything happens
    between us again it should be with intention,”
    I said. Teddy laughed. “I understand,” he said,
    “why you would say that.” We pulled up
    outside The Meter Building, on Wood Street,
    where once, when I was asleep and didn’t hear
    the landline ring, he left a note on my car
    that read, “I’m on our side.”
    We go on faith that others know
    the silent contracts we keep with them.
    It was of Teddy my misconception
    that to the unspoken he lacked
    the subtlety to agree. It was my own
    lack of subtlety I couldn’t see.
    Leaving the van, I turned to make sure
    I hadn’t left anything in my seat.

    -Jessica Laser
    Bennington Review, #6

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