The Exchange
Michael Trocchia

I must tell you: His was a fair voice. He came by ferry that morning. We went for coffee. I talked for the good part of an hour. His speech was paper thin. I gave him something to think about, something small and beside itself. His thinking was animal, impermeable and scant. He had a look of hurry and havelessness.
The café light was inexcusable. I leaned back in my chair. The noise of noise rose between our words. She knows I'm not well, was the one thing he repeated. My answer felt its way without me. Well, was its dumbing sound.
We took the train back to where I was staying. I helped with his bag. He insisted the sofa would do, as if certain dreams belonged to it, and he to them. We eased into evening, and the light made its apology. We gained on old times, and laughter, and then, not long after, he was asleep.
The night stood interlude. My sleep was elsewhere.
She came by early the next morning. He'd been up for hours, but stepped out for a stroll through the streets. The air was both familiar and fresh, he would say later. She must have just missed him.
She and I were in the kitchen. Anything to eat? No, no thank you. Listen, I told her. While she listened, he walked in. His face was at once part of the telling, a thing finely conflated with words and sentiments. Something had to be done. I stopped talking, and moved two heart-beats away. She looked at him until he spoke. I must tell you myself, was what she heard, barely and listening.