She startled me with a kiss on the mouth. Auntie always liked her men, you said. She’s been lonely a long time.
One night, your aunt said, we talked so terribly long. I mean, I thought we’d stay up till dawn. But I suppose we’re not so young any more. What did you talk about? Oh, dear, everything. The things that matter. Wars. And love. And the things we’d do if we could go back through. Through time.
That Easter we drove back to visit your family. It hadn’t been an easy decision. You and I, grad students, had so much work. But your mother called and pleaded. We had to visit. Your aunt’s health had taken a turn for the worse and there might not be much time.
Deep into the road trip, I brought up something that had been eating away at me.
“Anyway, it was just a star. In red ink.”
You shook your head. “You are so crazy.”
“Were you ever—?”
“No. He was a friend. Nothing happened. Amen.”
I continued to drive. At some point, I switched on the radio to fill the silence.
“Who’s Charlie Johnson?” I said.
You were reading…