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A Digression

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She was staring at me. I didn't realize at the time that I didn't hear her request, or notice her worried expression when I didn't acknowledge her whatsoever. Miss Lesley-Ann Williams is always a little too priss, always a little too perfect. By that point, though, I couldn't notice any of this; Her face was a blur, and so was her sleek red dress. I had already shut out the world, just waiting to hear the magic words that would crumble my walls away.

"How are you, today?"

I felt it, bubbling. I couldn't suppress it, not even in communication with my boss. To justify it, I couldn't think before I spoke, for I had been thinking too hard to keep. it. in. Now it was too late. I think it was too late for a while, now.

"Hm, me? I'm good. Oh yeah, I'm doing fine. I'm at work, here in this lovely office, with lovely people who love being telemarketers just about as much as I do. Don't give me that face! I'm being honest, here! I mean, they must enjoy what they do, since they never complain about it. No, they're families love the constant, moderate income. This job is dependent. Long-term. Everything a worker from the Bronx could ask for, right? I'm just another man doing another day's work, making another week's salary, in another month's job, in another year's city. My wife, Ernette, and our kids are at home. They don't care a bit. Not a BIT! Yeah, that's right, Ernie sends them to school and acts like everything's hot and dandy, but we both know that she'll never forget the truth, as surely as I won't: It's all over. Everything. We've had enough job shopping and more than enough relocating. The kids can't even make friends anymore, because they're getting too old to make lasting friendships in just a year. And Ernie and me…our marriage can't take it. It's kind of like how you bend a metal rod, and it'll take some of the pressure, but after a while, the stress marks start to show, and sooner or later it's bent… I have a bent family. With a sudden, inevitable intake of pressure, we'll just snap. Our broken pieces will remain exactly that. All the years of trust will turn to rust, because we'll split up eventually, since there'll be no bonds for us anymore; we'll be left out in the rain. I'll take Annie. Her pony tail'll remind me of Ernie, and I'll love her to death. She's just gotta get through that phase on her own… you know the one. I'm not a girl—I can't help her. She'll need her mommy, but it'll be too late. Ernie can take Robby. Every boy needs his momma. We'll both try really hard, probably, but sooner, rather than later, everything's gonna fade to dust. So how do I feel? I'm good. Oh, hell yeah, I'm doing fine."

"Oh. Well…carry on then."





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