I was dating a girl named Laura when I was eighteen. She was sixteen, and we were young and stupid and madly in a form of love that you’d never understand (/sarcasm /self-mockery). We were playing at an arcade in the mall one afternoon, and I played this game where you have to make a ball climb up a hill without letting the ball fall off the hill. I let the ball fall off the hill, but it still gave a pity prize of this little plastic ring. I put the ring on her pinky. She laughed and kissed me on the cheek. We broke up about six months later.
Five years later, I am twenty-three, and I see her for the first time since we broke up at a concert. She is with her boyfriend, a guy who is much taller and has evenly distributed facial hair and large gauges in his earlobes. She says his name is Gary and that my name is Spencer and that I look good and that she is doing good and hopes that I am doing good, too. I say she looks good and that it’s nice to meet you Gary and I am doing good, too. Good, she says. We’re going to go over there now, she says, holding out her hand for me to shake it. Weird, I think, and then I shake it. And then I feel the thin ring of plastic around her pinky against my pinky. And then she makes eye contact with me. Her eyes say she isn’t doing as good. My eyes ask her about her mom. About those perennials in the backyard that never grew. Her eyes blink slowly, and then she and Gary go over there.