Conversations

Someone Is Missing

Voices woke me.  A boy was watching me through the open window at the foot of the bed.  I tried to close the blind but it stuck and would not drop.  Several boys lined up and watched me, talking and pointing.  I decided to turn the table.  I took a pencil and paper from my purse and started to interview them, one by one:  name, birthdate, eye color.  When I finished I gave each boy a quarter.  They liked that.  The boys all looked alike – ten years old, skinny, brown hair – but even I could tell I was interviewing the same one twice.  Who is missing, I asked.  where is the quiet one?

English as a Second Language

“He’s a lonely child,” she said.  “Do you mean only child?” I asked.  We were watching Elsa’s nephew follow her youngest son around the house.  “He likes to visit my boys,” she said.  “Remind me what his name is,” I said.  “His name is Irvine,” she said.  “I have no idea where that came from.”

Locked Out

The door to our rented apartment was shut tight.  I was on the patio, a lower level brick-lined six by three foot cell.  The vacationing owners’ patio above was visible through a wrought-iron fence, and I could see the neighbor’s Westie through wooden slats.  He was barking but not at me. 

The husband was at the front of the apartment – a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and dining room away – watching basketball finals.  Still, I figured he’d have to use the bathroom sometime, so I started knocking.  Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap – an obnoxious mono-syllabic repetitious knocking.  After a just a few minutes the door opened.  I looked at his startled face. 

“I thought you were in the kitchen chopping vegetables,” he said.  ” I couldn’t figure out why you’d be chopping vegetables.  We’re getting carry-out tonight.”

The Woman Next to Me

The woman sitting next to me said, “I like your blouse.”  I did, too, and so I partially removed my jacket to show her the pattern and as she turned away, I thought, she can’t even see the blouse. It’s something she’s learned to say, just something to fill the air.  So I put my jacket back on and thought up my own air-filling observations, like, “I like that necklace.  It’s very attractive on you.”

We visualized ourselves in our ideal job.  Later she phoned and asked me what I thought about an idea she had.  Did I think it had merit?  Did I think she could pull it off?  I was flattered to be asked, and gave her my best advice, only to find out it was an exercise to push yourself to ask for feedback from three people who intimidate you.

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