April looked over his shoulder at the shot of her in a white summer dress, between two trees. They framed her body in the picture that his cousin had taken five years ago that coming May. He was doing a project for school and needed a model. The photograph was black and white, and April recognized that girl-- a former her, that was younger and more free. A girl who worried about who was going to be the next to get kicked off "America's Next Top Model" or which flavor of Ramen Noodles would be for dinner.
"Yeah. I guess. I was thinner in high school," April responded, her hands on her waist.
"High school doesn't count. This was when I was away. You were going to the gym every day." Dylan looked at April, then back at the screen.
"I'm going to the gym more now than I was back then," she countered.
"Well, when you're older, it's harder." Dylan closed out the screen and stirred his tea.
Dylan was a runner-- a natural athlete. He had been brought up on baseball, football, and basketball. He competed in track and ran cross-country in high-school. It all came naturally to him. The competition, the sweat, the awards.
"You should get back into running." Dylan suggested.
April looked at him, sitting down on the sofa across the room. "I have been running, Dylan. I've been running every day. Not that you're home to notice."
"I thought you went out the other night," Dylan sneered.
"Yeah, after I ran." April pulled her hair back into a ponytail.
April tried to ignore the hints. They were subtle, but consistent. She walked to the bathroom and shut the door, staring at herself in the mirror. It was true-- she had put on weight. Nearly thirty pounds since they began dating almost six years ago. She was no longer a nineteen year old size 4 and was reminded of that every time he denied her.
She remembered the night two weeks ago-- a Thursday night. Dylan had class every other night, straight after work, but on Thursdays he worked til five and came home to relax. That day, April had left work early to cook Dylan lasagna. She wanted to give him a chance to relax and forget about work and school and the chaos. A night he could focus on being with her right then. April did the dishes, straightened the house and lit a candle that smelt like apples. When Dylan came home he had smiled.
"Aw, sweetie. Thank you"
April had served him a plate, poured a beer, and sat across from him. "How was your day?" April smiled, watching Dylan take a bite of the saucy goodness.
"Oh, you know. Long as Hell. How about you?"
April sipped her water. "Good. Not bad. Just busy."
April had changed from her tan pants and polo into a flowery skirt and blouse with tan heals. She did her eyes the way she saw on TV and pinned back her hair. But Dylan looked back at his food.
"This is really good," Dylan chewed.
"Thanks," she smiled.
"So, the Met's are on tonight. Wanna watch 'em?" his eyebrows rose. "It's going to be a big game."
"Yeah, sure," April said as she stood up, collecting the plates and bringing them to the sink. "You go get started."
"Thanks dude," Dylan said in a cartoon-like voice and headed towards the living room.
April washed the dishes and prepared their lunches, as usual, then headed to the couch. She sat close to Dylan, fixing her skirt and crossing her legs.
"You're really gonna love this game. They got a new pitcher, and he's really got a great knuckleball. You know how they through a knuckleball?" Dylan made a fist and then adjusted his fingers to resemble the pitcher's. "He holds the ball like this... and then," he chucked an invisible ball, "he throws it like that. Pretty tough ball to hit."
April watched the screen and agreed. It looked pretty impressive. But she didn't really care about any of that. She shifted her body and crawled on top of Dylan, straddling him and putting her forehead to his.
"Kiss me," she smiled looking into his eyes, a deep chocolate brown.
Dylan gave her a peck on the lips and peered around her.
"Come on, that's all you got?" April said playfully, kissing him on the neck.
"Hey," Dylan said, pulling away. "Come on, you know I don't like that."
"Baby," April said, running her fingers behind his neck and up through his hair. "Just relax. I want to kiss you," she smiled.
"April, look. I told you. I don't want to do this. I'm not in the mood. I'm tired, and stressed, and anxious. I have two stories to read tonight, and I just want to watch this game. Is that too much to ask?"
April crawled off and sat next to him, defeated again. Forty six days. Not that she was counting.
"I'm tired. I'm going to go to bed."
"Goodnight, sweetie" Dylan said, as April walked to the room. She slid off the skirt and took out the bobby pins that held together every strand of self-dignity she had. She had become a beggar. April slipped on the tank top and sweatpants and crawled into bed, hitting the button to the radio. She had laid there wondering again what she could do differently. What she could possibly do to get him back. Maybe she had to just let it go. For good.