A desultory replacement life partner. She had not had to call him that. That comment of hers did not help matters, and he told her. He said he assumed she was not trying to mean something. Do you think, she asked, there is no point in attempting to describe or illustrate nuanced, complex social relationships?
Cloudy outside and breezy hot. Inside, air conditioned.
Appearance was misleading.
Was she saying that for all his high capability he was low functioning?
Typical of her to borrow language as though she could throw an appropriate context at him.
Perhaps she could make a graph.
Narrate projected slides.
A warning implied some articulation. Some force. If only force of assertion.
Some, it was said, said it would come as a card or flier or broadside or notice or broadcast or by entrails or by live bird.
He was not endorsing this; he simply knew it to have been said.
No denying there was commentary there.
He would not attempt to define or characterize it. That was not his role.
He could make comments about things he knew or understood Complaints he could make as well. Physical, psychological, and apt for his profession.
And then what? Collapse? Or try to rise to something?
As though he and she, they, could wrap themselves in cleverness.
He wanted to leave himself out of it.
She had said she knew that.
He remembered when she had said it, he was standing in the front room looking at a bird that was on the lawn, the bird that flew away.
No remedy for that.
He asked her what she meant, exactly.
He doubted she listened.
In a way, after a while, he could not blame her. Nobody listened forever.
Or he stopped listening.
There were worse things.
Greg Mulcahy is the author of two story collections, Out of Work and Carbine, and two novels, Constellation and O’Hearn.