against the skin.

Christopher makes Dee and I tea, as we stand on the other side of the marble counter. I tell him, that tonight I am going to shave the beard off. He stands behind the counter measuring out the tiny leaves and tells me I should keep it.

Christopher suggested that I grow the beard out in the first place.

I didn't like it.

I didn't like the way it felt against the skin.

He says: Keep the soul patch.

Me: I like the soul patch. The soul patch stays.

He says: Yeah!

Dee says: Those are my brother's names. Nick and Chris.

He says: That us: gifts and travel.

I say: Children and travel. He is the Patron Saint of children. Though I like giving gifts.

Dee says: Didn't try to give me your St. Christopher medallion before I flew to SF.

Me: yes.

We stand on the street, smoke and talk. The air is too cold for the conversation to be entirely enjoyable, and I walk you halfway home.

I say: I can't stand it. I take steps. I take sure steps away, and I end up in the same place.

Dee reminds me why.

Dee reminds me of what I am missing, and some part of me wants to kick her.

She always thought the world of you.

She talks about Christine and stops, and is quiet for a while at the corner.

Dee holds out her mittened hand.

Dee says: Let's make a pack not to speak of the exes again.

I shake her hand, under the street light, in the blue lady gloves she gave me for Christmas. I pull her close and say good night.

Dee says it softly into my left ear.

Dee whispers: I'm a little worried about you.

I cross the street and wave back her. Wave and wave and wave.