Things You’ll Miss
by Sean Quinn
These are the things you’ll miss: bus rides back from the town of Florida into the capital at 7am, setting your alarm not to sleep through your stop. Her singing Carlos Gardel tango in bed. Her voice in English. Her voice in Spanish. The smell of a coconut and dulce de leche cake baking in the oven filling your room as you siesta. Bites on your shoulder sitting at restaurants. Cigarettes and silent stares on the balcony overlooking Uriarte and Palermo. The nonsensical arguments you have only because you’re both scared of these things you’ll miss. The sadness of her paintings. The sadness of her poems. Her father the colonel, shirtless, an Argentine Marlon Brando, cooking every part of a cow on a man-size grill, him feliz and workmanlike in the glow of the asado. Looking back through her gate, one last time, every time, to know that she got in; the emptiness knowing that night is over, the serenity knowing there are more to come. Your favorite sideways glance, her eyes alight in the darkness of the movie theater. Her hair in your mouth, waking you, choking you. Finding her hair in the nooks and crannies of your room and body and clothes days and weeks after it all has ended. Her piercing look from across the boat, separated from you, fixed, as you cross the Tigre back into Buenos Aires. Brown eyes bigger than life loving a whole you you never knew and now know you could never be.
You will miss her telling you that she loves you, and her meaning it. You will question whether she meant it and then resolve that she didn’t. You won’t know which is easier to accept, having it and losing it, or never truly having it. That is what stays with you the most. If you could be sure she was sure it did indeed happen - for a second or a year - you could be free of it. On cold nights in non-winter seasons this thought will come out of nowhere precisely to stop you from sleeping.
You’ll justify things by saying that you knew this would happen. It’s happened before with others. It will happen again (you’ll hope not, but it will). All that will comfort you are UTZ Red Hot potato chips and Sunday night classic movies on AMC a continent away. Things that are constant.
You’ll miss the assurance that everyone else is wrong and you are right. Nodding your head to appease them as they tell you it’s impossible to have anything real between a yanqui and an eighteen year-old Argentine. Being the only party to the big secret that there’s more to it than all that.
You’ll miss being the only one who believed. Well, one of two.
But these are things you will miss. Now she is here beside you, sleeping in your arms, exhaling on your neck, smiling in her dreams, unaware that the sad event awaits at any moment like a step missing up the staircase in an unlit barn. You stare up into the blackness and know this inevitability is coming, that even now you are creating it, a future you are raveling with your own disbelief.
You think that, in time, she and you will miss none of these things, and that is the thought that keeps you awake.
Born in Baltimore, Sean Quinn switched coasts to study theatre at the University of Southern California. In his senior year there he redisovered writing in a workshop studying under T.C. Boyle. He currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working on a charity-based web startup and writing. His stories have been chosen for publication in Gargoyle Magazine and Cerise Press .