Things Left Mostly Unsaid (03)

§03 — She’d survived the event, however narrowly. Most probably, it was only melodrama that had placed such an outcome in doubt. There were no grounds for expecting anything worse. Yet it was as if she was still stricken. Her existence appeared somehow thinned.
A sheen of unseasonal perspiration glowed on her forehead.
“I don’t know,” she repeated, about nothing obvious. It was almost a plea. “I really don’t,” as if she couldn’t imaginably be believed.
Such stammering was not really speech, still less security. The seals and wards were far too weak. They offered no serious protection, or even the pretense of it.
He scrabbled at the enigma, quite undeterred by her distress. “So, what was it like?”
“There are no words.” She exaggerated, but only a little. Really, she had no idea where a description would begin. Perhaps there were too many words, but none for her, or none for it. The happening hadn’t been something meant for discussion. So the phrase was an alternative to saying more. It would have subtracted itself, if it could. In a way it disappeared, but incompletely. It left ripples, like something retreating into aquatic depths.
“There have to be words,” he insisted. “It isn’t necessary to be exact.”
“Vagueness in the right direction is already a lot to ask.”
His response was an inarticulate grunt of irritation. He was not here to fence. Was she not yet broken enough to be unguarded?
She ignored the tacit demand. There was too much else going on.
Impatience made him careless. “Spit it out,” he grumbled. He knew at once that exposing so much aggression was a mistake.
Her inner recoil was undisguised. Defenses would now compound the difficulty of the terrain.
He apologized clumsily, but too late.
“I’m tired,” he tried to explain. “I’ve been worried.”
“It’s okay,” she said, but the wariness in her eyes said something else. “I can’t really talk now.”
“Don’t say that.”
“It’s already too much,” she said, withdrawing further.
“Then who’s going to help?”
“Jesus,” she said, with a sad laugh. “Come on!”
He mumbled something even he himself missed. It was nothingness badly emulating speech. “I have to know,” he croaked. Despair was completing the loss of caution. “You understand, don’t you? I have to.”
“What if you simply can’t?” The complete absence of hostility in her tone somehow made it worse.
“No,” he said. “I won’t think that.”
“You can’t avoid it,” she said. “It’s settled.”
“Nothing’s settled.”
“You don’t believe that.”
“This isn’t about what I believe.”
“You don’t get to decide, either.” Once again, her tone was fatalistic, rather than accusing. “It’s the way it is.”
“You say that as if you’re on its side.”
“Everything’s on its side,” she countered. “Or nothing is.”

February 3, 2020admin 1 Comment »
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