Tuesday, June 22, 2010

short-short

Her New Boyfriend

Her new boyfriend is really her old boyfriend. It’s like she gave up looking. She said she bumped into him at that old dark pub in her neighborhood that used to be their neighborhood, and it just started again. Just like that. And it wasn’t even a sex-with-the-ex hook-up, or a too-lonely-to-sleep-alone night. They simply fell into step again. He turned up outside her tall glass office building the next day at 5, hands stuffed coyly into his jacket pockets. She let him kiss her cheek and walk her home. At her front door, propped open with her foot, she spoke into her handful of mail and keys, “I have spaghetti for dinner” as though telling these items a secret. “Good. I’ll get the wine.” He turned and walked east five paces to Eddie’s, where they used to go for beer or milk or lotto tickets.

Later in the week when she’d been invited to a friend’s art opening, she’d asked her friend on the phone if she could bring someone. The friend chimed “yes” hopefully, but that night her head tipped in confusion when she saw that the girl’s new boyfriend was really the girl’s old boyfriend. “Hey” she said to him. “Mike’s over there.” She ID’d her husband with her pointing pointer finger. She remembered the men had liked each other, would look less awkward as a pair pretending to study the pieces of art on the wall. The next day the girl’s artist friend spread the word about who she’d brought the night before and soon the talk among their friends of her new boyfriend dried up into “oh him” and “again, huh?” In a way, they’d given up too. It was easier for them in a way. Fewer questions to ask, no burden of introductions when they met a new single man she might like.

So, one night, at her place, her new boyfriend who is now recognized by all as her old boyfriend, finally decided to talk about it. This is what he said: “Funny, huh? How we just started…I don’t know….again?” His hands flew up and slapped his denimed thighs as pressed his lips together. He shifted on her lumpy sofa. The springs moaned; he cleared his throat. “Funny? How do you mean?” She kept her eyes trained on the TV, her hand one with the remote, her index finger flexed and pressed, flexed and pressed. The light flashing from the quickly changing channels broadcast different moods and reactions on her face, though it remained still: bewildered, amused, pensive. “We didn’t talk about getting back together, did we?” He touched her forearm and offered a small smile, like the tug of a shirt collar. “No. I don’t believe we did.” The girl stopped her channel up, channel down and finally her face turned into wonder, a curious, I-thought-I-had-more-dish-soap wonder. “Should we? Do you want to?" Now finally, she swiveled her head slowly to face him, her new boyfriend who was really her old boyfriend. Really wanting to know. “I don’t think so.” He gripped her hand, as if not to get lost in a rushing stream of other people, and didn’t meet her eyes.

3 comments:

  1. I like the repetition of "her new boyfriend who was really her old boyfriend." It really sets up the fall that's sure to come. I did stumble over “as though telling these items a secret," though. I thought for a minute she was talking to the spaghetti ... but how is that possible? I did figure it out. Maybe not enough coffee yet.

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  2. Thanks! Yeah, I can see what you mean now. Probably just a reorganization of the sentence: "At her front door, propped open with her foot, she spoke into her handful of mail and keys, as though telling them a secret, “I have spaghetti for dinner.”

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  3. Of course, it's when your mail and keys start talking back that you have a problem.

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