This happened. Ben or I arranged it, the overcast afternoon, some neutral location, other details like an order of hot chocolate and a short, plump black. Seeing him again was only a brief novelty, a novellaty, if you will. He appeared unchanged, despite remnants of Japan on his trousers. Not knowing what else to do, and neither of us being versed in the thing to do in any situation, we shook one another for most of a minute. The pitiable silence continued as we seated ourselves and began peeling the outers of our oranges. I had imagined he might ask me why I had not initiated any contact despite his having been back for the better part of half a month. But my imagination had clearly been thinking of someone else.
He removed his smirk-brimmed hat and I noticed that more of his hair had scarpered, perhaps on the flyover. I pictured strands bobbing freely in whichever oceans separate the two countries. It had been thirteen minutes and my gloomy forecast of the night before proved on the mark. Gone was whatever rapport we had managed when we we were regulars of one another's company. Now we got on famously; I was the press. I found myself asking him of his experiences without any sense of anticipation, and then switching the answers off like television. He, for his part, appeared to be enduring the occasion as if it were thankless labour. Thirty-nine. Our ridiculous orange juice faces did little to diminish the moment of melancholy in which we realised we no longer had a reason to ever see the other again.
Remember that time, I said, attempting to rekindle something, when we were together, laughing about something, can't remember now what, but I remember it being funny as hell, and we were building off something, you know, back and forth, like a meme type thing but in real life, like it used to be, and it was night time, I remember that, possibly in Brunswick, and you said, what was it, one of those darkly funny things you used to say, and someone else was there, can't remember who, but they were just perplexed by the two of us, you know, 'cause it probably seemed severely handicapped what we were saying, without any context, and also 'cause it was us and we didn't make sense at the best of times, but we kept going, unrelenting, zero exposition, and I retched into a JB bag. Ben smiled and looked at me almost fondly. No, he said.
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