Where do Ice Cream Vans Go at Night?
It was the strangest thing. She just turned to me one night and asked:
“Where do ice cream vans go at night?”
I’m not even sure it was a real question. It felt more like something she needed to get off her chest. And, of course, I have no idea. I thought about it for a while - probably too long to be honest - and I said the only thing that I could think to say.
“I’m in love with you.”
Cocked that one up. There was a weird silence after that. She had this look on her face like she’d just been given a really bad diagnosis by a doctor; kind of shocked but also inexplicably relieved. She had definitely known that something was wrong and this pretty much explained it.
‘Love, doc? You’re sure? Is it serious? How long do I have?’
I made a really poor attempt at an explanation. My mouth opened but nought more than air came out. Then we both went back to reading.
Skip to a few days later and we still hadn’t talked about it. A month later, same story. Things weren’t bad, though. There was no hostility and we were still talking about as much as we had been before.
But that was the problem: every conversation we had was, for the both of us, separated into the category of either pre or post ‘L-word’. Every day out and every milestone within the following month happened in the massive cock-shaped shadow of my blunder. I couldn’t handle that, so I brought it up.
We talked about it; she said she didn’t feel the same. I cried, I think, and then she left. We haven’t talked in a while.
It was supposed to be a joke, her question. It was the first half of a joke. I was supposed to say ‘I don’t know, where do they go?’ and then she would say the punchline and I would groan as I always did. Then we would go back to reading, and that would be the end of it.
But, now and forever more, I’m left with the memory of that time when the best relationship I’ve ever had ended with one sentence. I’m left to wonder if my love is a punchline. I’m left to scream at my idiot-self in my idiot-head when I replay it on loop in an insomniatic haze at two in the morning. All I had to say was ‘I don’t know’.
Hey, hey - Where do ice cream vans go at night?
I don’t know, where do they go?
I love you.
[A studio audience, full of people, erupts into laughter. There’s clapping and whistling]
G.G. Townsend is a young author who’s already been published on East of the Web and about to embark on studying Creative Writing at university.