Padiddle by Alex Eichen

I guess one of the reasons I stay with Leslie—well, she makes me feel like a kid again. That’s something I think people have to latch on to with everything they have. She knows I’m a game fan, and she loves playing games with me. The first game we ever played was a game called padiddle. Now, the object of the game is simple: as you drive, find cars with only one headlight. See it, say “padiddle,” tap the window and try to be the first one to do it. The first time we saw one, she tapped the window with her knuckle. I asked about it and she looked at me funny. You’ve never played padiddle, she asked, eyes sparkling. No, I said. She taught me the rules, and said that if you get three padiddles in one drive, it means you’re getting laid that night.
Another game she taught me to play is a game called Sequence. It’s a little more complicated—you play it with cards. She said that she and her boyfriend used to play that game on nights when there wasn’t anything to do in the small town where they grew up. Just the thought of him spending time with her irks me. He doesn’t appreciate her youth, her games like I do. She’s going home to see him tomorrow night. I ask if she’ll miss me. I’ll miss you, she says. When I drive home that night, I pass a car with one headlight missing. I wonder about her seeing him, and hope she doesn’t catch any padiddles on the way to her house. I know, however, how many cars travel that highway...


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