It was back before there were cell phones, when people could still smoke in bars.
The Guy and The Girl were hitting it off. The conversation had moved from favorite bands to favorite movies to favorite books to favorite poems, and each time, when they mentioned one, the other would lean forward, and unleash a burst of commentary.
Sitting on the table, in the middle of them, was a matchbook, who felt a quiet pride at playing a part in this union. He was touched by the way they would each offer the other cigarettes from their pack, British style, and the way they commented on each other’s brands. When they reached for him and lit their cigarette, he felt, with each successive strike, as if he was bringing them closer together.
Yet he also felt a creeping sadness. Soon he would be used up, and forgotten.
“Exactly,” The Girl said, blowing smoke to the side. “That poem really gets at the heart of what it is to be alive.”
“I write poetry,” the Guy said, picking up the matchbook and tearing out the last match. “I know I’m in danger of doing the whole pretentious poet reading his poetry thing, but there you go.”
“I don’t think that’s pretentious,” The Girl said. “I do think, though, that it would be cowardly if you didn’t read some.”
The Guy pulled out a notepad. There was writing in every page, and even all over the covers, inside and outside. He read one of his poems, and then another.
“They’re beautiful,” The Girl said. “And I’m not just saying that because we obviously have a connection.”
The Guy blushed.
The matchbook sat on the table, empty.
“We should do something, you know, more formal,” the Guy said.
“What do you mean,” the Girl said, smiling.
“I mean this is the part where I get your phone number so that I can I ask you on, you know, a date. Chivalry, you know?”
“Got a pen?” she said.
He handed over his pad and his pen.
This is beautiful, the matchbook thought. At least he would have the memory of this moment.
The Girl looked at the pad, and laughed.
“There is, literally, no place to write my phone number, darling.”
The Guy picked up the matchbook, and handed it to her.
“Yes there is,” he said.
Years later, when they went through a box of mementos that marked their path to marriage and children and all the rest, The Guy picked up the matchbook, and held it in his open palm.
“Remember?” the Guy said.
The Girl’s hand closed The Guy’s fingers over the matchbook, and the matchbook felt the joy of being an artifact in their sweet history.
“I remember,” The Girl said.