28 November 2014

Short Story: Detours



Detours is the final short story from All of Use With Our Pointless Worries and Inconsequential Dramas that I’ll put up on this blog and it’s probably one of the most personal I’ve written or maybe it was just one of the hardest to write.

Ostensibly (I like that word) it’s a story about a dinner party, a family reunion of sorts but as with a lot of family parties there’s something more running beneath all the chatter. This is a story with clues running throughout as to what lies ahead or what the story is really about. It is basically about death and the way we sometimes avoid talking about that subject – the elephant in the room, as it were. Okay, enough, here's the story.



Detours

“You always wear those big boots.” Esme says as we finally jump into the street after descending five flights of stairs.

“You always wear a permanent frown.” I shoot back.

“If it was permanent I would naturally always be wearing it, you messed that up. I’ll give you it though. Although I think I have reason..”

“I know,” I interrupt, “I know.”

“Well at least you dressed up. The suit looks good. We need to get some wine.”

“Or Champagne? We can splash out for once.”

“Wine will do or we can buy some single malt if you want.”

“Single malt, that’s a definite. Then we can take it back home and drink it on our own and avoid this altogether?”
I’m sending that idea out quickly although I’m 100% sure of the answer.

“We’ve talked about this, it’s been arranged. We’re expected. I have family and these people are now your family whether you like it or not,” she smiles, “it’s too late to change and you agreed that this is what we would do.”

We walk down Rue Oberkampf. The street is empty, not quite deserted but almost, as if Christmas day has arrived seven months early. I cannot believe that some of the shops and bars are still open although no one is visible behind the illuminated windows. I nod over and smile to a woman riding by on her bicycle, a women I must have seen a thousand times around here but have never spoken a word to. She smiles back. No trouble riding her bike today on the traffic free streets.

Yes, I don’t have any family but Esme’s are such a nightmare most of the time that I think I might have gotten off lucky there. Her melodramatic mother, her blowhard brother, her neurotic sister…but I’m sure things will be different tonight. Of course they’ll be different. Esme is the only thing that’s important to me anyway. I’m going for her and god knows where I’d be tonight if it wasn’t for her.

“Did your take your pill?” I ask.

“No. No, I decided against it.”

“Okay. That’s good, I guess. I suppose you can always take it later if you change your mind, you still have time.”

“I don’t think I will.”

I light a cigarette.

“You stink of cigarettes.”

“Well you,” I think for a second or two, I’m grappling here, “stink of yoga.”

“Oh that is ludicrous.”

But we both laugh.

“Don’t light up here.”

“Oh come on. You’re mother smokes, she won’t mind.”

“It doesn’t look good arriving at the door with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth. Why don’t you just open the whisky bottle and have a swig while you’re at it.” I don’t know why she’s whispering. If I can barely hear her no-one inside can.

“You’re worried about appearances?” I say. She shoots me that look I’ve seen many times. It’s a look I admit I’ve grown to love and I also admit I’ve been known to annoy her at times just to achieve that expression. It’s a look that a mother gives to a five year old son or daughter and which means, ‘I’m certainly not going to tell you again’.

“Okay, okay.” I whisper back before returning the cigarette to its packet and ringing the door-bell again. Esme’s mother answers, a cigarette in one hand and a glass of something in the other. She puts down the glass on a small marble table next to the door but keeps hold of the cigarette.

“Esme, Esme.” She embraces her daughter.

“Mama,” Esme exclaims, “you look beautiful. Is this new?”

“I thought I would make the effort. Jacques created it especially. Said I was the only one he would do it for at such short notice, he didn’t even charge although…you know I did offer to pay.”

“You’ve given him plenty of business over the years and what’s the point in charging you. Is everyone here?”

“Yes, everyone’s inside.”

Margot finally turns to me, opens her mouth as if to say something but stops and then surprisingly, she puts her arms around me and even more surprisingly, kisses me gently on the lips.
She takes a step back and looks me in the eyes, “Thank you.” She whispers.


“No, no. We split up about a year ago. You didn’t hear? Almost wiped out my bank account.”

Esme’s brother Tomas, drunk already although it’s only around seven, is reminding me, as if I need reminding, that what appears to be a successful life can disappear in an instant, although I don’t think anyone has been providing him with much sympathy lately. Of course I had heard about it. He had an affair with a woman who was at least 10 years younger than him, he left his wife and then his lover left him three months later. I had heard he had begged his wife to come back, did all the usual acts of contrition and some highly unusual ones as well from what Esme had told me but he couldn’t buy or talk his way out of this one.

It’s not that I can’t feel sympathy for him or that I don’t understand how he must feel, it’s just that he’s always been such a dislikeable guy. Conversations with him always centred on money, how much money he had, how much his new car or his new set of golf clubs or his new suit or his month long vacation in Monaco cost or how much money he had sunk into his now worthless investments and pension schemes, and I always knew when talking to him that the conversation would eventually lead to how much money I didn’t have or that I was wasting my life eking out a meagre existence through my writing. I had always considered him an asshole and my opinion wasn’t going to change simply because his wife had come to the same conclusion.

“Anyway none of it matters now does it?” He says mournfully, pouring another glass of the whisky I had bought. But I know that this does matter to him.

“Maybe not but what does matter now is the people who are here tonight. The ones who are here with you now.” Sometimes everything I say feels like a cliché. Why did Esme leave me alone with him?

“You were right, you chose the life you wanted, regardless of what anyone else said or thought. I wish I had done that. I wish I could have been so…so…fearless.”

“Is that a compliment I’m hearing? It’s been a long time coming. And there’s nothing fearless about sticking to one thing because I didn’t know or have any desire to do anything else. Come on, you followed love,” or more likely your dick, I thought, “that’s a brave thing to do, even if it didn’t turn out how you thought it would. You still tried.”

“I did, didn’t I?”

It’s something for him to hold on to. I can give him that at least.



“There are lights in here you know.” Esme says as she enters the drawing room. “Why are you both sitting hunched up together in the dark?”

I hadn’t even noticed that the room is now only illuminated by the almost night sky. I also hadn’t noticed that I’d been unconsciously moving the large stool I’m sitting on, edging it away from the shadows creeping into the room. I’d been too lost in my thoughts as well as listening to Tomas.

“Leave the lights off. Just use candles if you must.” Tomas says, taking Esme’s hand as she bends down to the table in front of us.

“Have you finished the entire bottle between you?” She holds up the bottle that was full only two hours earlier.

“You’re lucky we have more. And don’t get drunk or maybe you should get drunk, I don’t know. Maybe we all should just get drunk.”

“That’s got my vote.” I reply.

“Seconded,” shouts Tomas getting up shakily from his chair and walking to the door, “and thirded, fourthed, whatever.”

“You,” I say as Esme sits next to me on the stool and takes my hands in hers, “have some messed up family.”

“You, definitely fit in well then.”

Esme rests her chin on my shoulder and we sit in silence for what seems like a long time.

“I’m at a party in a huge house in the country,” Esme whispers into my ear, leaning in closer to me, “and I’m looking for an escape route because I’ve grown tired of all the people and the embellished stories they tell in order to assuage their fears that they’re really not as interesting as they’d like to think they are.
So I leave the party through the huge patio doors and walk outside, down the concrete stairs, away from the lights and the noise and into the darkness of the garden.

And before long I find myself wandering along little pathways and past fishponds so motionless that I can clearly see the moon illuminated across their surface, past the hedges that are taller than I am and I keep walking deeper into the gardens following the moon until I’m so far from the house that the conversations and the music have been replaced by the hooting of owls and a breeze that moves the grass and keeps time with me as a I walk. And I walk further still until I come to a very old tree, a tree with enormous outstretched limbs underneath which sits a bench and even though it’s raining lightly the bench is dry, sheltered by the tree’s branches.

And there I sit, in the warm evening air, in the darkness, accompanied only by the sound of the creaking branches and the music of a thousand droplets of rain falling softly upon the tree’s leaves. I sit on the bench alone and I wait.”

“For what?”

“For you to come and find me.”

I look down to see that the shadows have crept further, almost to the far wall, leaving only one sliver of glowing light trying to outrun the darkness.



I’ve only been in this dining room once, on my first visit a few years ago when I was given the grand tour of the apartment followed by a family dinner. It’s almost bare in comparison to the other rooms, save for the dining table and chairs, the shelves along the wall and the two floor lamps. But the lamps haven’t been switched on and the room is lit only by three large candles, which sit in the centre of the table and even the moonlight drifting in through the balcony doors at the far end of the room doesn’t reach the corner where we are now sitting.

Small talk. Forced small talk is happening but I’m not listening. I’m looking at the ornaments on one of the shelves, a strange collection of glass and chinaware with no theme to it whatsoever. For a woman who is immaculate and precise in all other areas of her life it looks like Margot has given no thought at all to this collection of small cats, china plates, music boxes and tacky-looking holiday souvenirs, and in the centre of all of this disarray sits a large glass elephant, facing directly forwards towards the dining table. The only piece on the shelf that looks as if it has been placed deliberately.

I look over at Margot and I realise that she’s been watching me as I look at the ornaments and it looks as if she is about to say something but then she turns her head back to the shelf and then back to me and then she smiles. And I’m not completely sure what she has shared with me in that moment but she puts down her empty glass and announces to the table, “I’d like to say a prayer before we start eating.”

“Oh come on mother,” Tomas, who is sitting to her left, says loudly, "none of us here are religious. You know this.”

“You don’t have to join me. I’m not asking for that.”

“You should have gone to Notre Dame with the rest of them then.” He retorts. A sneer in his voice, slurring his words slightly.

“Just give me this can’t you. One prayer. Just one!”

“Let her say her prayer Tomas. What difference does it make?”

This is the most I have heard Esme’s sister Adele say the entire evening apart from our first greeting. She’s sitting directly opposite me and it’s only now for the first time that I notice how much she resembles Esme. The same long dark hair and brown eyes, the same caramel colour to her skin, the same slightly turned down mouth that can make her look unhappy even when she’s not, although I haven’t seen her smile in a long a time. But Adele has a slight scar running down her forehead, about three inches in length and which you can only see if her hair is pushed back. Plus Adele worries about everything. Esme is a worrier but not nearly to the same level as her sister. I wish I had asked Esme how Adele had received that scar.

Margot finishes her prayer and then gives thanks that we’re all here tonight.

“I can’t remember the last time we were all sitting together like this but I’m glad we are.” Says Adele.

“I can.” Tomas replies while filling everyone’s glass again.

I can remember as well and I hope he has it wrong or that he thinks more about what he is about to say and doesn’t say it.

“When you were pregnant remember and we had that dinner to celebrate.”

Adele looks stunned as if she has had her breath taken away from her, “Oh yes, that’s right. That was it. I forgot. I mean…”

“Well I don’t how you can forget that, come on it…”

“Do shut-up Tomas and put your phone away for once.” Margot cuts him off.

“Idiot.” Esme hisses at him. She takes her hand off mine and reaches over to hold Adele’s hand.

“I’m sorry. Look I, I didn’t think. You know what I’m like. I’m sorry Adele, I’m sorry.” He is almost pleading with her. I can imagine this is the same way he pleaded with his wife, who he’s no doubt hoping is going to text or call tonight, which is the reason he has barely let go of his phone all evening. After all this time, a year later, still hoping.

“It’s okay. It doesn’t matter. It was a long time ago. I just forgot with everything going on. Although, no, it has been on my mind for the past few months, now and again but it’s not important.”

But even in the candlelight, with her head bowed, I can see the tear running down her face and although I want to stop seeing that tear, to turn around and look out through the balcony windows, I don’t.

“It is important,” Margot says, “and you shouldn’t forget. None of us should.”


The half-full plates remain on the table long after the meal is over. None of us has had much of an appetite it seems but we are all drinking the wine and the scotch, and the nervous, subdued conversation is now no longer a problem. Esme has decided to tell the story of the drunk woman we had met outside a bar a few weeks ago.

“..and she was sitting there on the ground, so drunk, I mean incredibly drunk and we are just standing around her smoking cigarettes, and she keeps saying something but neither of us can make out what it is, and then suddenly she raises her arm in the air as if she’s asking a question and Michael, the idiot, bends down and slaps her hand with his, gives her a high five.” Esme has told this story a few times and each time she finds it hilarious for some reason. “And the woman looks stunned and then shouts at Michael that she’s asking to be picked up not given a bloody high five.”

Everyone begins to laugh.

Esme’s mother, who I have never seen laugh this much or even at all, shouts out over the table, “I’m glad I never went swimming at the beach with you Michael.”

“A few days ago I saw a man walk in front of a car. Straight into the road, straight into the traffic.”

“Was he drunk?” Tomas asks.

“At first I thought he was because his face was emotionless, glazed over,” Adele replies, “the way he just walked casually out into the road but the cars stopped for him and he continued to the other side. But then, instead of walking on he turned round again and he walked out into the traffic, and he kept doing this again and again.”

“Did anyone hit him?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I just drove past him. No one was helping him and no one stopped him. When I looked in my rear view mirror he had turned his back and was walking deliberately into the oncoming cars.”

“With what’s going on in the world today I don’t blame him at all.” Says Tomas while pouring another glassful of whisky.

We’ve all had plenty to drink but the drunkenness has gone now and I don’t think it’s going to return no matter how much we try to recapture it.

I wonder what Margot and Esme are talking about. Margot had said she wanted to speak to each of us alone. They’ve been gone for about half an hour now. I look at my watch and calculate that there’s not enough time to spend half an hour with each of us I don’t think but I know or at least I think I know that Esme has always been Margot’s favourite, even though parents aren’t supposed to favour one child over another. But that’s usually the case.

Esme finally returns and I can see she has been crying. “She wants to see both of you together.”

They both stand up and look at their older sister who says that it’s okay, that there’s still time, and they walk slowly out of the room.

“Does she want to speak to me?” I ask as she sits down next to me.

“No, she said you would understand and she would only be telling you what you already know.”

The candles have almost died out, the flames flickering but still holding on. I want to ask Esme if she is scared but her reply, if it’s a yes, will only make me more scared and I don’t want that but I can feel my heart racing and I take the half empty bottle that’s at my feet and I drink from it to try to extinguish the fear. I drink a large amount of the whisky and pass it to Esme who drinks from the bottle, her arm tightly around my waist and as I look at her as she drinks I wish that we were anywhere else but here. She puts the bottle down and rests her head on my shoulder.

“Tell me again.” I say.


The room is almost in complete darkness by the time Margot, Adele and Tomas return. There’s only the moonlight to guide us now.

“Well, it’s time.” Says Margot quietly.

I take Esme’s hand and we all walk towards the balcony doors and I push the handle down but then stop before opening the door.

“Now?”

Margot looks at me and nods.

A soon as I open the thickly glazed doors I hear screaming and shouting coming from the streets below. The illuminated city appears in front of us as we step out onto the balcony and I take a deep breath of the cold night air. I put my arm around Esme, pull her tightly against me but there’s nothing I can do to stop her shaking and I steady myself, steady both of us by placing one hand on the balcony railing.

Tomas stands drinking from a bottle, muttering something again and again but I can’t make out what he is saying. Adele is holding onto Margot who is motionless, staring up into the night sky but then both of them back away from the railing until they reach the glass doors and slowly slide down until they are seated, their arms around each other.

Esme tries to say something but her shaking has become worse and the noise has become so loud that I begin to feel light-headed and I’m finding it hard to breathe but I’m sure I can hear her say, “you…” and although I don’t want to I turn my head from her to confront the black sky.

And I see the hundreds of dots, glowing and becoming larger, dwarfing the tiny stars behind them.






All of Us With Our Pointless Worries and Inconsequential Dramas is available as an e-book and paperback on Amazon. Interview with Julian Gallo on Expats Post.

22 November 2014

Short Play: Algeciras. (Reality versus fiction)



“I don't know about what happened... because once you start writing, it ALL becomes fiction.” - Todd Solondz, Storytelling

The short play Algeciras is probably around 90% fiction. The reason I’m mentioning that is because when a friend of mine read it he said I was simply writing about myself and when I asked how he had reached that conclusion he replied that the male character in it didn’t own a television, which at the time I didn’t. Apart from that one scene setter this play is entirely fictional except that the idea did come from an incident in a pub one night with a drunken woman who was being pretty aggressive towards me for absolutely no reason (or so it seemed at the time) other than she was drunk and I ‘used’ her again in the short story Detours.

I don’t know why I found her interesting enough, a woman I didn’t know, to place her in a play and short story. If I’d been drunk myself that night I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about her behaviour. But this play is an imagining of what might have happened – the next morning scenario, although it’s an exaggerated piece for dramatic purposes and it’s supposed to be one of those five minute reads so I tried to cram a lot into 11 pages, perhaps too much.

The only other piece of reality I stole (or paraphrased) from someone was the line, “I love my house, I mean I really love that house. I’ve lived there for ten years now. It’s a solid building, it’s been standing for over hundred years and it’s going to be standing long after you and I are gone. People have lived there before me and people are going to live there after me. Families are going to be living there and filling that house with life a hundred years after we’ve turned to dust and are no longer even a memory, and that makes me feel happy not sad.”

And that line is really what this play is all about.

I do find the idea of reality versus fiction as well as memory versus fact and the reader's perception of which is which intriguing, and I explored that theme in the longer play The Elephant Frowned, which is included in the book of short stories.

And to steal again in order to wrap this up and stop any further rambling I’ll use the quote from the excellent Todd Solondz film Storytelling, which satirically and scathingly explores the fiction versus non-fiction theme – “I don't know about what happened... because once you start writing, it ALL becomes fiction.”



Algeciras

Man
Are you always that aggressive?

Woman
You seemed to be into at the time, you didn’t say anything.

Man
I’m not talking about that. I meant when we met last night. The way you talked to me, you were pretty aggressive.

Woman
Was I?

Man
I heard you speaking to your friend, the drunk one who fell over. Before you had even spoken to me you looked over and I heard you say to your friend that I was a prick.

Woman
We were all drunk. Come on don’t get sensitive.

Man
I’m not, it doesn’t bother me. I just can’t remember anyone being that aggressive.

Woman
Well it worked, so you couldn’t have been that bothered at the time.

Man
I wasn’t, but you know, calling someone a prick seems a strange way to pick someone up.

Woman
I’m not like that usually, that’s not me, well not usually. I don’t know why I was being like that. Too much drink and I was nervous I guess, insecurities.

Man
What do you have to be insecure about?

Woman
The same as everyone else. I don’t know. The clock was ticking towards closing time and I didn’t want to end up alone last night.

Man
You have problems picking up guys? With your attitude? Shocker.

Woman
I don’t have problems picking up guys. I have problems picking up guys that I would want to wake up with the next day.

Man
Failed yet again.

Woman
If I didn’t want to be here you wouldn’t have even heard me leaving. I’ve been awake for an hour.

Man
Doing what?

Woman
Just lying here, thinking. I did get up and check out your place though.

Man
(NO RESPONSE)

Woman
You just moved in?

Man
Two years ago. Rental. I don’t see the point in really doing anything with it. I didn’t actually think I’d be here this long.

Woman
Even though you don’t own it you can still do something with it. Hanging some art on the wall would be a start.

Man
How’s your hangover? Do you have one?

Woman
No not really. You?

Man
Slightly, not too bad. I find that silence usually helps.

Woman
(whispers to herself)
That must be why you don’t have a TV then.

Man
What time is it?

Woman
About eleven I think. We could go out, get something to eat maybe.

Man
(No Response)

Woman
Just a suggestion.

Man
I don’t really eat much in the morning, especially not after a night out.

Woman
Look if you want me to leave just say so.

Man
You wouldn’t be offended?

Woman
I probably would be slightly offended and I’d probably spend a few hours wondering why you wanted me to leave and I’d probably come to the conclusion that you just wanted a one night thing. Then I’d think some more about it and I’d probably think that you were pretty rude and was it really such a hardship to speak to me for a while after we’d exchanged bodily fluids but then I’d come to the conclusion that you were probably just an asshole and there are plenty of them about so I would simply end up forgetting about it because life’s too short.

Man
You could always just skip to the life’s too short part.

Woman
It’s cool, I’ll just go. I’ve done the one night stand thing and been in your place, don’t think I haven’t. I thought we could spend a little time together that’s all, my mistake.

Man
How many?

Woman
What?

Man
One night stands?

Woman
I’m not a guy, I don’t count but I could always run home and check the notches on my headboard for you. Does it fucking matter? Are we having a double standards moment?

Man
Stupid question, forget it.

Woman
Forgotten.

 Man
You don’t have to go, really.

Woman
Don’t do me any favours.

Man
Standing there pulling on your jeans is kind of changing my mind.

Woman
Wow, thanks, can I really stay? Maybe for another seven minutes or six at a push. Your home is so warm and comforting I really don’t want to leave.

Man
Just get back into bed. Your body heat saves me switching on the heating.

Woman
So is this something you do a lot? One night stands then kick them out the door.

Man
I didn’t kick you out the door, you decided to leave.

Woman
You’re not exactly begging me to stay.

Man
I just, I find it easier, I..

Woman
Spit it out.

Man
I usually go to their place, it’s easier to leave. I don’t usually bring anyone back here.

Woman
So you do do this a lot?

Man
Not really. It’s not like I’m in my twenties anymore.

Woman
Why is leaving immediately such an issue? I mean that is something you would do in your twenties after a one nighter. At our age you might consider the possibility that last night might lead onto to something more maybe.

Man
I don’t consider it.

Woman
Never? You have a girlfriend? I’m pretty sure you didn’t say anything about it last night. Wouldn’t be the first time though.

Man
No, no girlfriend.

Woman
You just don’t want anything more?

Man
Right. I’m on my own and I like it that way.

Woman
That’s no way to live. I mean is that even living? You’re happy with that?

Man
I’m not unhappy. You get used to it. It’s easier.

Woman
Relationships can be hard work, yeah, but, you don’t ever plan again to have a relationship, I mean a permanent one?

Man
I have no plans. Why does everyone have to have plans? I like my life the way it is.

Woman
That’s kinda’ seems a lonely way to go through life.

Man
I have plenty of people in my life, more than enough actually.

Woman
But this, right now, you don’t like this? Having someone when you wake up? Having someone you contact during the day, who will be there for you? You know, love.

Man
I just don’t do relationships, not anymore. I’ve learnt. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

Woman
And there’s a hundred and one other clichés out there that will help you through the day.

Man
You asked. I’m trying to explain, even though I don’t have to. You’re under the impression that everyone needs someone else, some significant other in their life. That’s not always true.

Woman
I think someone got to you in the past.

Man
Now that is a cliché.

Woman
Okay. Okay. It’s just conversation.

Man
Being alone is scary for many people, I understand that. I just don’t see it that way.

Woman
Well even a dog can get used to sleeping in the rain if it does it long enough.

Man
Thank you Buddha.

Woman
Look all I was talking about was getting to know one other, hooking up from time to time even. The sex was good, why not? No strings. We’re older, we’re adults, it’s quite easy. Plenty of people do it.

Man
But then it becomes a regular thing, it always does because sooner or later someone always wants more.

Woman
I’m suggesting no strings attached sex and you’re saying no. This is a first I swear. You don’t believe me that it couldn’t be just that?

Man
No. I don’t.

Woman
Why?

Man
You know, these conversations are what I don’t like. Having to explain myself.

Woman
Excuse me. Why didn’t you just go home and jerk off last night? You could have saved yourself all this grief.

Man
Jesus.

Woman
You know we are in a relationship right now, we’re having a relationship. No matter how short - this, you and me, right now, it’s a relationship.

Man
And it’s temporary.

Woman
Okay look I get it, no problem. In all honesty though, from my point of view, I think you probably do want a relationship, just not with me, and that’s fine, either that or you’re scared.

Man
You’re right, I’m terrified.

Woman
Deny all you want but this sort of thing is not uncommon once you hit a certain age and things have not panned out the way you planned.

Man
I told you I’ve never had any plans.

Woman
You’ve had long term relationships, I know that because you said you didn’t do relationships but you followed that with not anymore and it sounds to me as if they haven’t worked out and you’ve given up trying, and that’s fear not this excuse of having your life just the way you want it that you’re claiming.

Man
Remind me to cancel that therapy session I had booked, thanks.

Woman
Joke all you want, which is another well-worn deflection device people use but I know what I’m talking about.

Man
Okay, as you have completely worn out my patience here’s a story for you.

Woman
I’ve got a feeling this one isn’t going to have a happy ending.

Man
I used to visit a place in Spain called Algeciras. The first time I visited I went for a weekend, then I went for three months and then I went every year after that first visit, sometimes twice a year, more if I could. I equated Algeciras with happiness but the thing was I couldn’t stand it when the time came to return home. Returning home got to be so bad that I decided to stop going there altogether. Feeling that down after being happy for a week, even a weekend, it just wasn’t worth it. I’ve not been back there for almost…I think it’s probably two years now.

Woman
That’s not really a story but I get the feeling that is a well-rehearsed speech.

Man
Only in my head.

Woman
But that is exactly what I’m saying about not trying. And honestly it’s kind of lame.

Man
Again, thanks.

Woman
No, but what? You’re giving me this as an example of why you don’t do relationships? Because you feel shit when they end? If that’s the case where’s the risk, where’s the fun? Not every relationship has to be long term.

Man
I’m just having a break, taking some time off, there’s nothing wrong with that. Jumping from one relationship to the next, it gets tiring. Someone said once that people spend more time choosing their car than their partner and I believe that.

Woman
I’m not disagreeing with you on that one but… let’s see, here’s a story for you.

Man
Go ahead, I’ve got plenty of time.

Woman
Time, exactly. My house, I love my house, I mean I really love that house. I’ve lived there for ten years now. It’s a solid building, it’s been standing for over hundred years and it’s going to be standing long after you and I are gone. People have lived there before me and people are going to live there after me. Families are going to be living there and filling that house with life a hundred years after we’ve turned to dust and are no longer even a memory, and that makes me feel happy not sad.

Man
That’s not really a story.

Woman
Then you’re not really listening. I think I’ll leave now.

Man
Stay for a while.

Woman
                                Why?        
                              
                                 Man
We can waste some time together.

Woman
Until one of us gets fed up with the other.

Man
That’s usually the way it works.


All of Us With Our Pointless Worries and Inconsequential Dramas is available as an e-book and paperback on Amazon. Interview with Julian Gallo on Expats Post.