Northwords Now Issue 35

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Undoing

by Barry Graham

She packs boxes. He sits in a chair. She has her back to him as she works. She occasionally turns to face him as she searches for another item to pack. Each time she turns in his direction, he looks away from her, pretending he is not watching her.

He gets up and goes over to a table on which there is a pot of coffee and some cups. He pours coffee into two cups, then picks up the cups and extends one toward her. She takes it.

He goes back to his chair and sits, drinking his coffee and not looking at her. She stands looking at him, holding her cup. She takes one sip from it, then puts it back on the table.

She resumes packing, and he resumes watching her.

She sorts through CDs and cassettes, putting them in a box. She looks at one CD, ponders, and then turns around to face him. He looks away as she turns.

“This is yours,” she says.

“It’s yours too. You really like it, I thought.”

“You like it more. I can get another.”

“So can I.”

“It’s okay. You can have it.”

He does not answer. She goes the table and puts the CD on it. Then she looks at the packed boxes and says, “I’ll come over with a van on Saturday.”

“Okay.”

“Okay. I’ll see you then, if you’re here.”

She picks up her bag, and leaves.

He sits there, drinking coffee. He stands up and goes to the table. He puts his cup on the table and picks up the cup she left. He drinks from it. He picks up the CD. He goes back to his chair with the CD in one hand and her cup in the other. He drinks coffee and looks at the CD.