A Loss For Words
1. Spoon. Sitting at the breakfast nook, Richard held the thing in his sun-spotted hand. Hot tomato bisque quivered and shook. Maryanne said, “Stop it with the spoon. You’ll ruin the tablecloth. If mother was alive, she’d have another heart attack.” He nodded and put the soup to his lips.
2. Clouds. Richard circled the block with Tutu. The terrier was Melissa’s, but UC-Santa Cruz only allowed service animals in the dorms. The air was full of late fall. “Looks like rain, maybe even snow,” Mark called. Richard watched the man fix a rolled newspaper in the crook of his bathrobe. “Clouds,” Mark pointed from his front steps. Richard looked up at the sky and wondered.
3. Rome. Melissa read on the couch while the Christmas tree twinkled behind her. She waved her father over and underlined a passage with her finger. Melissa read, “Supposedly, Nero watched Rome burn while strumming a fiddle.” She went on about how the emperor was misunderstood. Richard leaned in close to the page and tried hard, but it never came.
4. Dog. Freshly groomed, Tutu searched for a suitable business patch in the early dew. “Happy New Year,” Mark called. Richard smiled. “Where do you get the dog done?” Mark asked, morning paper hitched in a flannel pajama sleeve. Tutu squatted in the grass. Richard swallowed and said, “Happy New Year.”
5. Worried. Maryanne bagged squash, dropped it in the cart. Richard steered. She pointed at the spinach, “That, too.” He unspooled a clear bag, squeezed in a wet bushel of greens. As he set it in the cart, Maryanne said, “I’m worried about that hand.” Richard made a face at his own speckled skin. “You’re what about it?” he asked. But she was already at the apples.
6. Groaning. Richard nodded off in the nook again, warm sun at his lap, fleecy terrier circled beneath him. Maryanne clamored, “Stop that groaning!” Richard lurched. “Sleeping,” he mumbled, mopping drool from his lower lip. “You were groaning again,” she said. Softly, he cleared his throat and said, “Sleeping?” But she was already on the stairs.
7. Home. Spoon overhead, the two of them walked the clouds while listening to Rome on speakerphone. Mark worried with the newspaper like a wand. He was groaning. Rome said, “Been a long semester. Excited to come back…” Richard wavered. Maryanne kept on with the clouds and the phone. She turned, “Are you coming? Next week, Rich. Next week she’ll be…” The leash pulled and the sidewalk sniffed. Richard managed, “She’ll be where?” But Maryanne was already past Mark’s…
"Words, words, words..." Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2