At just before five on a Thursday afternoon, the woman and her son
cross a gray parking lot under foreboding summer storms. He in jeans
and denim jacket, and she in practical office clothes, walk hand and
hand as he swings loops around her laughing through the lot on their
way to the practical station wagon ride home. From the window above, I
watch them get in, imagine they will talk about what is for dinner
tonight -- maybe green beans with chicken, the boy wrinkling his nose at the
beans, the woman watching from the rearview -- her boy buckles up, and
they drive off, a construction paper flower conspicuous on the dash.
On Leibniz and Spinoza
The woman sits typing away on her laptop. Passing joggers ask the man
at the table next for the time. He reads his watch incorrectly. He
comments to her, by way of introduction, that he feels bad but time is
relative anyway. He is reading philosophy. She comments on Kant; he
mentions Spinoza. He asserts it is Leibniz. She corrects him. He
counters that he is sure it is Spinoza. She quotes the Leibniz from
memory. He tells her she doesn't look like the kind of girl who would
ever know the difference.
You Could Be Anything
At the Italian grocery where they went to buy bread, the owner
insisted on giving the little girl a banana. Italians like small
children. The father insisted on paying. The owner refused. He asked,
so are you Spanish? Well, yes, Hispanic he explained. She, pointing to
his darker wife, she looks Spanish, but you, you could be anything.
You could even be Italian! The man chuckles. The peel goes straight to
She let's herself in with the key he leaves in the mailbox. Winter has
set in. She unlocks the door, balancing warm food in Tupperware for
his dinner. Catches her image in the glass. . .sweat pants past glamour
she thinks, and those pounds that won't seem to go away. He is in bed
watching movies. She settles in next to his extravagance: the
too-large, too-strong body; the too-familiar smell of his skin; the
too-tired ferocity of understatement: the maybe, possibly, too-tired
kind of love.
She reduced her life to this, a soft computer glow and clicking away in those silent hours after everyone else has long left the building. Framed photos of smiling friends on her shelves. Emails from her siblings. Plans for drinks with boring folks on Friday. The unframed degrees in the left hand drawer of the nicest desk and the nicest office in the building. She puts on tea and tries not to think of the ring long-gone from her finger, and the day marked in June on the calendar.
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