All Things Said and Done, The Expected And Devoted

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More by this author
Late September, 1998



















“Are you cold yet?”

“No,”

“Okay,”

“Where are all the people?”

“There are no people,”

“Why not?”

“Because people don’t live here.”

“Why?”

“People don’t breathe underwater.”

“Oh,.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


There was a long pause between the two, the ripples off the little boy’s feet echoing throughout the pond. He sat rigid along the edge, not quite scared of falling in, but more so scared of what she might do if he did. Or what she may not do.

“Are you cold yet?”

“No,”

“Okay.”

She was lying parallel to the pond, her middle lined up with his small figure. If she had to, she could catch him if he started to fall. He wouldn’t though. She thought him smart enough to know not to fall. She hadn’t taught him to swim.

“How about now?”

“What?”

“Are you cold yet?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

“What lives here?”

“Oh, lots of things,”

“Like what?”

“Creatures.”

“I know. What kinds?”

“Fish, frogs.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

The two sat still for a long time. Their relationship was mutual. They both depended on each other, but they never felt obligated.

His father was tall, and had been friends with her since she had graduated from high school. The relationship she and his father shared was much like her relationship with the boy, small in appearance, but undeniably valuable.

“Are you cold yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Okay.”

They began as a mere acquaintance through a friend from a friend, and they kept it that way. They kept their time together to a minimum, just occasionally meeting up for a drink at one of their apartments or walking the streets of Boston at one in the morning. They agreed on most topics, which was rare for her. They had kissed once or twice, only as friends they told each other.

“Are you cold yet?”

“No,”

“Okay.”

“What are you thinking about?”

“Your father.”

“Why?”

“Because I loved him.”

“Is that bad?”

“No,”

“Okay.”

“You’re a lot like him,”

“I know.”

“Yes,”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Staying.”

“You’re welcome.”

They kept things simple for the first few months. After a year had gone by, he had moved out of his apartment in January, and had no where to turn but to her. Figures as much. Both of them wanted this to happen.

Her apartment was small, with her roommate recently leaving; she had taken the spare bed with her. There was still her bed and a couch in the living room. The only problem was that the TV was in her room, and the both of them only fell asleep to a movie.

“Why did he leave?”

“ It’s complicated.”

“I know.”

“It’s not worth knowing, really.”

“But he was my father.”


The pause between the two of them lasted no longer than it took for it to start raining, and for him to pull his feet out the pond and sling his sneakers over his shoulder.

She stayed lying on the ground, thinking.

“We should go now.”

“What if it stops?”

“Then we could go onto the roof at home. I just don’t want my sneakers to get wet,”

“Okay. Help me up.”



She stood, brushed the dust off her jeans, and took his hand for the walk back to the apartment. Once they walked through the trees in the park, all they had to do was walk ten blocks and up four flights of stairs.

“He’s still your father,”

“It doesn’t feel like it. I don’t remember him,”

“Really?”

“No. I do, I just don’t know what to think of him, so I try not to,”

“He was nice.”

“I know.”

“He left because he thought he didn't fit in with us. He knew he was different.”

“Was he too tall? Will I have to leave if I get too big?”

“No, he wasn’t too tall. He just thought he belonged with me instead of his other friends. Turned out that I wasn’t helping him like we thought I would.”

“So it wasn’t me that made him leave?”

“No. He needed to be helped by some one who knew how to deal with his problems,”

“Is that why he took pills?”

“Yeah, he used to. He stopped once he thought he was getting better,”

“I’m glad I didn’t make him leave. The big boy at school said that’s why he left, because of me.”

“That’s not true. Look both ways.”

“Okay,”

He took her hand out of habit, and looked both ways while the light said to cross. She knew perfectly well that it was his fault that his father left. The added pressure brought back his symptoms, and he had to be admitted to the mental institution down in Louisiana. For so long she had thought that she had been helping him maintain his sanity.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"It stopped raining."

"I know."

"Will you take me up on the roof?"

"If you want."

"What about dinner?"

"I don't know yet."

"Do you miss him?"

"Yes,"

"Do you think about him a lot?"

"Yes,"

"How long until you won't love him?"

"A while."

"Am I really like him?"

"In a way,"

"Is that bad?"

"No, not really."

All the while she was talking to him, the thoughts going through her head were a chaotic knot, leaving her thinking things like how innocently children ask questions, and how much they can hurt.

"Are you cold yet?"

"A little."

"We're almost home,"

"I know."

"Are you crying?"

"Just a little."

"Why?"

"I miss him too."

"Okay,"

"Do you think he'll ever come back?"

"No, he never will."





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