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"That's not really funny."
"Your mom says you're never home. Where are you all the time?"
"Different places. Nowhere special."
"Your mom says you missed most of Christmas. "
"Why don't you and my mom get married?"
"When she's single, call me."
Cuppo teased me about being a father, about getting married at 18 like Macaulay Culkin and being just as screwed up.
"I hope it's worth it," he said.
"How's your father doing?"
He shook his head, squinting at the long lot of hand-me-down cars. "She's weird, dude," he said and lifted his hood around his giant triangle of hair. "Forget her. And call me back sometime," he said and turned back to school, stepping on his ratty cuffs with the cork heels of his Birkenstocks.
• • • • •
I know you were up alone in the mornings while we slept, unwrapping your laundered shirts and cinching your neck with a Windsor knot, and in the evenings, after the train dumped you back on our granite doorstep, you had all of an hour in you to chat over marinated chicken breasts and sautéed spinach, before you would sink into the sofa, your eyelids heavy, and be gone.
It couldn't have been much past six when you opened my door, the blue morning light outside like a fluorescent bulb just beginning to fade on. You were just a shadow in your spring trench, your briefcase like a plumb weight on the end of your slack arm. I couldn't remember the last time you had even entered my room. The mattress gave at my feet with your weight. Your hand smelled soapy and clean as you put it to my hot cheek.
"I have something for you," you said and clicked open the tabs on your briefcase as if starting a meeting. The box was shiny and medicinal as you placed it on the covered lump of my chest. The condoms sat there, perched, like a toy locomotive at the crest of a hill.
"Use them," was your advice.
"I don't need them."
You sighed and looked down at me. The softened flesh of your throat, where it had just been shaved and soothed with lotion, gathered above your stiff collar. "It's OK," you said and patted my leg. "Just let me know when you need more."