“Do you ever wonder what it’d be like,” Karen stirred the bowl of Thai soup she always craved but couldn’t pronounce, “To like, go to sleep and wake up, like, a thousand years later?”
Jim started laughing as he picked apart his shrimp. The tables around them hummed with the chat of other late night patrons.
“What?” She challenged his humor.
“What’d’ya mean ‘what’?” he said, “Where’d that come from?”
Karen heaved a sigh, “We’re doing the nineteenth century now, so I had the kids read Rip Van Winkle.”
“I’m sure they were thrilled.”
“Yeah, well,” she practically inhaled the steaming broth, “I assigned the first, like, forty pages of Pride and Prejudice for Wednesday, so I’m sure they just love me right now.”
“Can’t they just watch the movie?” Jim teased. Karen pelted him with a cannonballed napkin.
“Anyway,” she continued.
“Yeah, but why a thousand?”
“Well, wasn’t Rip only out for like twenty years?”
“That’s not the point.”
“Ok,” he made a shrimp disappear, “So what were you asking?”
“No, I just think it would be interesting, y’know?”
“Like flying cars and shit.”
“Yeah, or maybe no more disease or death…rooftop gardens and space tourism.”
“Or a post-apocalyptic hellscape,” Jim added cheerfully.
“Why do you always do that?”
“That,” Karen pointed her spoon, “You bend things around to make it all depressing.”
“It’s not depressing, or not that… well, it’s a possibility anyway, and besides, I was only joking.”
“Would you be sad?”
“Waking up in a hellscape? Yeah, sure,” he shrugged.
“Would you miss me if I wasn’t there too?”
“Yeah, ‘course,” he pushed the rice around his plate to soak up the juices, “You’re in a real weird mood, aren’t you?”
“No, I was just thinking about since class this afternoon, and I think it’s a really interesting problem.”
“Being out of it that long.”
“How’s that a problem? Do you think you’re gonna fall asleep like that tonight? Or me? Do you think I’m gonna doze off for a thousand years?”
He looked at her earnestly, a confused kind of concerned. For a silent beat they sat in the ambient hum, considering absurdity and each other. And then she giggled.
“I’m sorry,” she laughed, “I just – ha – I guess I’m just, oh I’ve been so tired lately, y’know? Really worn out.”
“Yeah, I see that,” he laughed along and cleared his plate.
“I am gonna be so glad when this semester is over,” she brushed her hair up and aside, combed with fingers. Jim signaled for a check.
“This was so great,” Karen yawned, “I really needed this.”
“Good, yeah no this was great.”
“Really great,” she cooed, and they were at the door. Cold air gripped them at the entrance.
“Great,” he said, hands-to-pockets nodding, “Alright well, see you later?”
“See you later,” she practically sang. And the distance grew. Already drifting away and off to sleep.