Red used to say that a tornado could wipe his town off the map, and it wouldn’t make a difference. He also used to tell Blue that he was older than her (this lie continued only until Blue asked Red’s mother when his birthday actually was), although she had an entire year on him.

During Blue’s last months in high school, she was followed by Red. He phased through his junior semesters and watched Blue get accepted to Yale. He watched her heart sink as her family pressured her to attend the local state school. He watched the chandelier light in her eyes as they danced at her senior prom. Underneath an umbrella in the front row of some rainy bleachers, Red watched Blue accept her high school diploma.

Red kept seeing Blue after she left for college — they’d meet for breakfast dates and pottery lessons — while he received offers from both the state school and Yale. He was convinced he’d follow Blue through the next stages of their lives as he had done for the prior two years, but Blue assured him that a long-distance relationship would work and that he should go where he’d be better off. Reluctantly, Red conceded.

In the spring of Red’s senior year, Blue came over. She took him to an empty tennis court, and they stared out onto the green and blue asphalt, imagining the ghosts of partners rallying back and forth. Blue told Red that she could no longer see him, and before he could even process what she said, Red said okay.

In the summer, Red went to New Haven. He refrained from calling or texting Blue, but everyone in his hall knew of her.

In the fall, Red overheard that Blue was coming to the Northeast to visit her Ivy League friends. A call from her later that evening brought Red relief, as well as an unshakable unease when he agreed to show her around.

In November, Red entered Old Campus from Elm Street and saw Blue sitting on a bench like an apparition from the past. He paused to consider what would happen if he didn’t approach her, if time stood still, and he could watch until the wind became cold. Blue noticed him, stood and they embraced. Red felt a sinking feeling in his stomach but hid it, and they walked the common spots with coat sleeves draped down over the tips of their fingers. They stopped by Willoughby’s. She asked him how he was doing, and even though he had rehearsed his response at least a hundred times, he could only manage a hollow, “It’s been good,” before the following silence filled in all his missing words. Red missed Blue’s hands, and the security of it all, and the thought crossed his mind that Blue could have seen someone else since the breakup, and he would admit to himself how miserable this was.

Blue was the same as before, and Red considered if that made her less interesting. He wondered how quickly it would take him to fall back into the obsession that once consumed him; he wondered if he had ever left it behind.

Amid some other conversation, Red spoke.

“Do you think it’d ever be possible for us to pick up where we left off?”

And Blue’s smile turned into some other expression. Not a frown. Not really anything.

“We couldn’t do that. You don’t even know me, Red.”

And the wind resumed, blowing a patch of leaves that had colluded farther down the road into a sort of brown fire. From where they stood on College Street, the campus looked exactly like it did from the application material online. The college, the time, which had been lived in again and again each fall and each spring.

“You have your coat?” was the last thing Red said to Blue, although he didn’t know it at the time. Blue would be late for her bus and would have to run after it before saying goodbye. She would send him a text later explaining this.

Red received the text walking alone underneath a flowering dogwood. He didn’t know Blue, yet she was the reason he was there. This troubled Red, but then again, nobody else could tell.

There were parts about Blue that Red thought he’d never forget, but as he stood in front of his bathroom mirror that night, recounting their conversation, Red could not, for the life of him, recall the exact sound of her voice. Instead, he could only think about

Cody Skinner covers art exhibitions, performances, and fashion. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he is a first-year in Franklin College majoring in computer science.