A very short fiction.
The other day he said to her, “Look, I’m sorry she’s not talking to you.” The angry condolence did what it was meant to do; it awakened an answering anger in her. Not talking to you? What the hell kind of way was that to put it? Torturing you with silence, perhaps. I’m sorry she’s stomping loudly through the hallways of your heart in stiletto boots of absence, that might work. How did he dare belittle the horror of it, her constant scorching pain?
Over the past three years, her life has appeared to others, if she allows them to peer in, which she often does, event-filled, often amusing, occasionally exasperating, chock-a-block with all the usual small failures and victories and untidy endings and beginnings and middles. Snarls of string and stained coffee cups left on windowsills, beautiful green stones that are actually the smoothed shards of some Sprite bottle thrown into the ocean and beaten tumbling up against a shore in another hemisphere for a decade or two. A life in other words, not much different than other people's, probably quite a bit more fortuitous than most.
But she has not seen it that way. To her, her existence has been the stuff of high tragedy or at least grand melodrama. Which is how she’s preferred it.
But the thing about characters in melodramas is, well, they have to neglect so much to keep the story going. You rarely see a femme fatale reading a book, except as a ruse to unobtrusively spy on the spurning lover as he buys his train ticket in a echoing train station, heading home to the doting wife in the suburbs he doesn’t yet know has been kidnapped. No tragic consumptive heroine takes time off from her wilting and delicate coughs muffled by the bloodstained handkerchief then tucked demurely back into her sleeve to, say, take in a really good action movie or walk through the city on a sunny day just to enjoy the asphalt baking up through the soles of her fabulous orange flats, to pass shop windows full of stuff she can’t buy and probably wouldn’t if she could, but which still make her salivate and twinkle in delight as she gazes through the glass.
That’s what that little pop in her head says,
“He’s right you know. She’s just not talking to you. Just one more person on the planet who is at this time not saying words to you.”
She could hate the pop if she wanted. She could blink it back out again, squelch it entirely, with any one from her arsenal of highly effective dispelling rituals. But you know what? She thinks, surprisingly, that she’d rather read a book. There’s a paperback that’s been waiting for her for months now.
The inside lining of the impractical shoes are silver leather. Back in her apartment, when she takes them off, she notices that her toes are now glittering. Her feet look like she forgot to wash off all her Tin Man make-up. She picks up a Ross MacDonald from the top of her pile of paperbacks and heads out to the fire escape.