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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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The Point of Talking

“Come on, Lindy, let’s go home.”

He had my elbow in his hand which tightened

     when I tried to pull away.

“Nice to meet you boys,” I said, standing up, “but I’ve

     suddenly remembered an urgent appointment.” This last

               over my shoulder, as I let Cory hustle me out.

As soon as we were in the hall and out of sight I gave

     a quick determined yank and stepped

               sideways.

“Come on.”

“Not that way.”

“What, you’d rather stay with them? Fine, then, stay.”

Now I grabbed his arm. “I don’t want to stay. But I don’t want

     to be bundled out, either, like a naughty child.”

“Well, we agree, I don’t want to stay, and you don’t want

     to stay, so can we go?”

“Cory, what is wrong?”

“Nothing. I just want to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere ’til you talk straight

     to me. What’s got you?”

“Nothing’s got me! Jesus, what’s wrong with everyone

     tonight?”

“Everyone? Who’s everyone? Everyone who?

Oh, I see—“

“Those guys back there.”

“Right. Those guys. Your friends.”

“They’re my buddies, not my friends. Christ it’s loud.”

We stepped outside, around a corner. Then

               I stopped. “I’ve got a stone in my shoe.”

He watched me balance on one foot and offered

     his arm as I shook out the empty shoe. I saw

his mouth quirk, his head pull back. “Hey.

You’re not trying a spot of female

manipulation on me, are you?”

I shook myself. “I do believe I was.

     I get that way, when a guy goes all

     prickly stoic male on me, I guess.”

“The squared jaw and shoulder bit?”

“That’s it. Though I must say, you do it well.”

We stood there, light and music blaring

from the doors, the night sky vast above.

I took his hand. “Want to go for a drive?”

 

Later, parked somewhere off the road,

we curled up in a blanket on the truck bed,

staring up at all those stars.

“Some bed,” he said, working his shoulder blades around.

     “Hope we have a better one, someday. Hey!

     Get your elbow out of my ribs.”

“Not till you say something

     to the purpose.”

“Sheesh. You got a one-track mind, you know that,

     Linda?”

“Don’t try to kiss me now. Talk about a one-

     track mind! I want to know

     what happened, back there.”

“Sheesh. Merciless. All right. I don’t know what

     there is to say, except it’s depressing,

     hearing them trade stories how not to get nightmares—“

“Okay. I’m listening.”

“What do you want me to say?”

“I want to know

     why it bugs you.”

“It puts my teeth on edge,

     all that talking without purpose. I wish they’d—

     I don’t know, go out and get a job.”

“Huh. Why shouldn’t they talk about it?”

“It doesn’t work, though, does it? None of it works,

     or they wouldn’t be sitting there, trading useless stories.

     I bet when they go home,

     when they go to bed, their dreams will be

               just as bad.”

“Probably. But—that’s not what it’s about,

     is it? They don’t imagine they’ll be free

     of nightmares after this, I don’t think. It’s—

     about having company. Not being

               so alone.”

That’s when he laughed, mirthlessly.

“Oh man—if they don’t know, after

     all we went through, all we saw, and all we did—

     we’re all alone, honey.”

                                   “In that case,”

I said, “maybe you should tell me

     what I’m doing here.”

He looked at me. “I’m not expecting you to rescue me,

     from solitude or anything else. And if you’re

     looking to be rescued, Bindy—” He stopped.

“I don’t know. I just don’t think it works that way.”

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