It seems obvious that you can make her love you. As obvious as the blue sky overhead is turning pink, night nipping at its edges. As obvious as water is wet and up is high, down is low. It’s just obvious. You’re sixteen or seventeen or maybe eighteen and you live anywhere, but you still live in your parents’ basement. You still live there and you want to get out, get out and live elsewhere, anywhere else. You want to get out and take her with you. You’ll use the money you’ve been saving in a rusted coffee tin, wadded up tens and twenties and a few fifties from Grandma that have come bank-crisp in your Christmas card each year. You’re saving for a beat-up car, whatever runs, whatever has four wheels and the ability to take you hundreds of miles out of town, to the desert, up the coast, away. She’ll sit beside you in a haze of cherry or new-car-smell air freshener with the window down three-quarters of the way or all the damn way, warm summer air blessing every inch of everything. It’s dusk just like this and her long hair is floating around her head like she’s submerged in water and the light you’re driving toward, in your brand new 10-year-old Pontiac or Toyota or whatever you could afford at the used lot off the interstate, is the kind of light they demand for postcards. It’s the kind of light mothers and fathers might gasp over on a nearly lapsed Sunday, when the kids are already asleep in their rooms and the TV is quietly flashing advertisements and Monday morning and the office and the grind and the routine are already beginning to whisper from the cracks in the floorboards. It’s the kind of soft gold-and-honey light that will remind them of the time that they had none of this and responsibility was a glimmer in their purses and wallets and retirement accounts, the kind of light with the power to return, indelibly, the moment he made her laugh or she saw him smile or they smoked a cigarette down to nothing by the lake before sneaking home to climb in a window and pretend they’d been there all night. It’s the light that makes paradise a moment and not a place. That’s what you imagine for that car ride out of town, her beside you, a couple of changes of clothes, your stereo and records in the backseat, and your old life in the rearview mirror.
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