I drive by a couple sitting under a giant advertisement.

The advertisement is bright and shiny and perfect, and the lady displayed in it has airbrushed skin. She’s smiling but not with her eyes. She looks young, perfect, and shiny.

The couple is young, perfect, and shiny. The ad shines bright above them, and into the night. They are holding hands. The woman lays her head on the man’s shoulder as he stares straight forward.

They’re slouching into one another, tired. Their hands and their souls are intertwined. You can tell by the way they’re leaning unto each other for support, as if to say I’m here.

A love like that… so strong its palpable.

They probably have an apartment together and a dog. A dog that’s old and fat and eats tissue paper they leave on the coffee desk, but they love the dog anyway.

They probably watch Netflix together every night until they fall asleep, holding each other close until the sun peeks through the curtains.

They probably try to cook but always end up just ordering pizza, because the food that they always try to make is disgusting and inedible. And eating pizza for the 4th time this week is just fine, even if they’re both lactose intolerant.

They probably both have jobs and today is the only day that their schedule lines up for them, so they went out and walked around town. And they’re sitting there, under the bright and shiny ad, in the night, to rest after a long afternoon of drinking in the sun and bubble tea.

They’re probably each other’s “person.” They probably have plans in the future that involve a two kids and a house and a dog.

Or … not.

Maybe this is their last night together. Maybe their love is there, but the effort isn’t. And even though they’re living together… they’re bored. This should be exciting right? Moving in together? Living in each other’s spaces? Watching the news together, cooking horrible dinners together, doing… everything together… falling into a routine.

So why are they both bored with each other?

Maybe their heartbreak was inevitable. Maybe it was planned out from Day 1, when they met, maybe, in a class. Or maybe they met in a train station, maybe in a book store. Or, at a job that they no longer work at.

Maybe they’re here, under the glow of an ad for a perfume, trying to feel the spark they once had. Trying to grasp at that feeling, before the mundanity sunk in.

They turn to look at each other

I’m driving too fast to see their faces.

Erich Balajadia is a 9th grader at Marianas High School. Balajadia’s teacher is Ms. Leila Staffler.

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