(Published in Cavalcade Literary Magazine #3, 2014: www.cavalcadelitmag.com)
This is how it will happen. We will meet sometime mid-day, the sun buried behind layers of low-hanging clouds. A cool breeze will stir the grasses and leaves of unrecognizable trees and whip plastic bags and pieces of litter in amusing little spiraling trajectories. We will be be sitting at a wooden picnic table painted a number of bright colors in no noticeable pattern. To the left (of me – it will be to your right) a sick-looking bush will be planted in a metal garbage can. The dirt will be dry and gray and full of small pebbles and cigarette butts. I will smile and take a number of heavy breaths. This is to show that my brain is processing intense emotions that I am unable to constrain nor express linguistically. I will look at you and smile wordlessly (with one side of my mouth, in that strange way that I do when I am nervous) for five seconds then look wistfully at the words “JUGGALO LOVE” carved into the tabletop. I will say “juggalo love” under my breath in a way that sounds as if I am talking to myself but really I intend for you to hear what I am saying but also to think that I am talking to myself. You will say to me “how was your day.” I will say “it was fine.” This will be a lie. This exchange will be necessary to open up to the beginning phase of conversation where we will discuss arbitrary pleasantries for approximately 6 minutes. We will ask questions we already know the answers to. We will talk about the weather and decide that it is “strange.” We will construct predictions for where our bodies will move to and from in the following hours and possibly days. We will both feel a sense of immanence, the conversation moving toward a particular realm from which we cannot deviate its course. We will think it is becoming “serious.” I will say something that I mean and something that I do not mean. I will intend to be provocative. My voice will get slightly louder. I will gesture with my hands in a way that means “I am thinking hard about this.” I will not be thinking. I will look in many different directions at assorted colorful or moving objects in my vicinity. You will be doing the same but I will not notice since I will feel unable to look at you except for when I am speaking and then only for seconds at a time after which I will look down at my hands wringing compulsively on the table. You will say something to me and I will only hear 7 words out of 10. I will think hard about what I will say to you next and when you are done speaking I will be shocked by the silence and forget both what I was thinking and what you just said. In an effort to continue the conversation I will repeat something I said earlier in different and more complicated words. I will think about sex. I will say something I do not mean. I will say several more things I do not mean. I will think, “it is impossible to say just what I mean.” I will develop a strong desire to read T. S. Eliot or maybe find a way to mention him but will not find a rational way to bring him into the discussion. I will be somewhat frustrated by this and begin to feel tired. I will think “language” and “Wittgenstein.” We will say things back and forth to each other. There will be occasional silences. Some will feel awkward and others will not. The silences will grow longer little bits at a time. This will mean that we are both thinking about other things. Our voices will become gradually softer. I will start to take heavy sighing breaths which will mean that I am thinking about standing up and walking away. I will try to think of a logically sound reason to no longer continue talking. I will fail and make something up. This will be another lie. I will feel empty and lonely. I will think “I am hungry” and “…” I will say some things that mean “goodbye.” I will stand up and walk away. The garbage will settle on the sidewalk. There will be no sunset.