We started smoking again.

I don’t think either of us really wanted to, but it was just too easy to fall back into our old habits. We’d both been doing so good, but the days were getting shorter and colder. It was always harder to quit in the winter. Plus, it was finals week and we were both on edge. 

Mostly though, we were just running out of things to say to each other. 

It was already starting to get dark out even though it was only 5 pm. We sat on his front porch in silence and waited for the other one to say something first. 

I lit a cigarette and took a drag. I didn’t even want the rest, but I kept smoking it anyways. My hands were fidgety and it was something to do. 

“Let’s go out tonight,” he said.

And suddenly I felt very sad. The kind where there’s nothing to be sad about really. I just was.

I took another drag and flicked a bug off my arm. Thought about how nothing ever felt new anymore.

“Okay,” I replied, exhaling.

This was our routine. Our carefully constructed interaction masked as spontaneous conversation. I guess we were both trying to hold onto something that wasn’t there anymore. Maybe it was never there in the first place. I couldn’t tell anymore. 

We didn’t know each other. Not really, anyways. 

I looked at him and had this overwhelming sensation that we were wasting our time. Not just me and him either. Everyone. Weren’t we all just talking to make noise? Stringing together consonants and vowels to say things that sounded good? Things we knew other people wanted to hear? None of it meant anything. 

We didn’t know ourselves. Not really, anyways.

He brushed the hair out of my face and held my head between his hands. He kissed me, and whatever I was supposed to feel I didn’t. When we opened our eyes we smiled at each other, but only because we were supposed to. 

“I’ll be right back,” he said, walking back into the house and up the stairs to his room. I watched until I couldn’t see him anymore, and then I stopped smiling.

I lingered on the porch, feeling out of place. I didn’t belong there, but I wasn’t sure where else I was supposed to be, so I stayed. It seemed as good a spot as any to just, wait.

So I ashed my cigarette and continued to sit. And I waited for him to come back. And I thought about how I was always waiting for people to come back, and how they never really do.