• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 06
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she comma he

He waited till they’d all gone to say it. ‘But why?’ I said. ‘Why now?’ He just shrugged and picked at a crack in the table with a fork. Keep it light. Be normal. ‘I’ll make some coffee, then we can talk,’ I said, and grabbed some dishes and escaped indoors.

In the kitchen I waited while time brewed, dust settled, but when I took the cups out, he was halfway up the path behind the house, his jacket slung over one shoulder, setting the cow-parsley dancing behind him.

He’ll look back, I thought, and waited, but when he passed the last turn and still hadn’t, I cleared away the broken shells, blew out the lamp, and went in.

She said, ‘Why?’ or something. I think I shrugged. How do you answer a question like that? She muttered something about coffee, clattered a few plates together and went indoors.

I dug a rosemary stalk out of a crack in the old boards and rubbed my thumb along the grain. Never did finish sanding them. In the circle of lamplight, a single lobster claw curved, a comma dipped in sea-ink, a breath, a beckon: then/now, was/am. I drained my glass, pulled my jacket off the chairback, and climbed the long path up to the road.

In novels, no one ever looks back, but at the top I did. The lamp was out, the table empty.