APROXM: SHORT STORY

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT

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PREFACE: Going back through and uploading all those old texts, it's a bit shocking how many of them are so blatantly writing something nearly directly and wholly inspired by something else, adding virtually nothing. But I guess these were fun exercises.



"Oh, yeah? Is that it, then? What do you know about love, you little shrimp?"

"More than you do--that's certain."


Carefully placing his elbows upon the plaid-skirted table, George considered Alex's answer with an almost childlike assessment. George, taking a sip of his bubbling tea, outstretched his free hand in Alex's general direction. "Why don't you--Say, why'd you tell me what love is, then, hm?" he queried.


With a quick glance around the table--first towards Carver, who was busy nursing a topped off ale, then back towards George, Alex straightened his back and accepted the provoked challenge. "Yeah," he began, "I'll tell you what love is. And it doesn't matter what size shrimp you are, either."


"You're a li'l one, aye?"

"Like I said. Listen. This thing I've got going with Brie? Sublime."

"That so."

"Yeah, that so. We haven't dated as long as you and maybe Carver, but--Carver, how long has it been?"


His back hunched and his fingers slowly rhythmically tapping away at his glass, Carver merely raised his eyes to meet Alex's. Then, his eyes wandered back down to the yellow hue within his glass.


"Right…" Alex continued, "So, point I'm making--it doesn't matter how long, you can know what love is."

"You aren't really offering any arguments, lad. You skipped straight to your thesis!"

"Okay, look. When I text her, my heart swells--like a frickin' thumb stuck by a bee. Hurts, too, because all the moments spent apart sting. I just want to be with her, to hold her, to feel her, yeah? So that's love."

"And you're thinking…" George replied, "You're thinking me and ol' Carver here haven't felt that way, too?"

"No, you have, but you had other intentions, too."

"Intentions?"

"Seeing as both of you are living up that bachelor life, something went wrong. You didn't really love, right?"


George stopped leaning in his chair and leaned forward, carefully.


"Wrong, boy. Wrong. Just cause it ended, don't mean no love happened. There was love."


George then resumed leaning his chair back.


"Love comes in and out. For me, well, it went out. There was love in the beginning, sure. I loved her with all my heart, Alex. Anyone knows that."

"Sure. But then you didn't, huh?"

"It's not so simple. You fall in love with someone, how are you supposed to feel when they--you fall in love with this specific person, so when they change, you supposed to love ‘em then, too?"

"We all change, George."

"Don't lecture me about change, lad. I changed. She changed. But it was a different change."

"What kind of change? Like a, I like bananas instead of oranges now change?"

"Just the slightest shift in personality. Wasn't satisfied with the way I was satisfied. And then I got complacent. Stopped really caring, or, maybe I did still care, but there wasn't much effort on my part."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, so the lad here who really knows about love is interested in a differing definition, aye? Changing your mind?"

"Just interested, I didn't say anything about being wrong."


Slapping his palm down onto the table, rustling the drinks, George let out a hearty laugh. He then stretched out his palm and fetched himself another sip of tea, then resumed his definition of love.


"Love is… Ah, well, you know, love isn't constant. Believe me, I was in love with her for a good while. Just came out of a bad relatio-well, it wasn't bad, I mean, it wasn't bad for me, but it was later, hmm--"

"George?"

"Right, so, I was maybe falling out of love. Nah, that's not it. I wasn't in love, but I still thought I was--just a different type of reserved love, I guess. Like, it could be activated at any time, but it wasn't most days. Just didn't care. You know what I'm talking about, right, Carver?"


At this provocation, Carver broke his gaze with his alcohol to assert his own statement.


"No."


Both George and Alex exchanged glances, followed by George speaking up, followed by Alex.


"W'd'yamean, no?"

"Yeah, sorry Carver, I'm interested."


Carver shifted his eyes slowly from George to Alex, then Alex to George, then back again.


"You don't know what love is. Close. You're close. But you don't know."

"You could inform me," replied Alex.

"I loved a girl. Up until the end, and then some. For quite awhile."

"Yeah?"


There existed a small moment of pause between the three.


"... Yeah."

"What was that like?"

"... Horrible."


His face wearing a shred of doubt, Alex once again exchanged a glance with George, who was taking sips from his tea quite minimally. Alex paused to think up something tactful, but could find no words as Carver continued.


"She was my first. And she was good. We were good. Apart, a lot. But good. Every day. Some days were bad, but those were minimal. Minimal days. Most days were happy, and I loved her, and she loved me. But there were days spent apart. A lot."

"Do you mean you were separated often?" Alex asked. He noticed that George did not seem to carry much concern or curiosity--perhaps he had heard the tale before.

"Yeah. And when we found ourselves together, we were happy. Really happy."

"But I'm guessing she ended things with you, right? What made it unhappy?"

"Me."

"Huh?"

"I did."

"I'm not understanding…"


At this, Carver downed a swig of his beverage, licking his lips carefully afterwards.


"Did some rough things. Things a man thinks about when he's apart. And they weren't reciprocated. Did ‘em, anyway."

"You're being kind of vague…"

"Bad things, Alex. Listen to me. I loved her when we were apart, and I loved her when we were together, and when I did those bad things, I still loved her. But that love was awful. Poisonous. A toxin. And she bathed in that toxin unwittingly--she regretted the bath, but she took it again, and again, until she realized what sort of bath it was."


George emptied the last of his teacup's contents, then he chimed in.


"Had no idea you were a poet, Carver."


Carver seemed to ignore the quip.


"If you love someone, Alex, you have a duty to assure that that love is not… poisonous. Not a death knell. You get that?"

"I do love someone--"

"I loved someone. It can end as soon as it begins. Your love can still be love, but it doesn't have to be a good kind of love."

"... Huh."


There existed a thoughtful pause between the three, with Carver finishing the last of his alcohol. George strummed his fingers across the table nervously while Alex seemed to be trapped in a state of pondering. After careful consideration, George discontinued leaning back and set the chair straight before rising out of his seat and beckoning the other gentlemen to rise as well. "It'll be noon, I think, fairly quickly." George declared.


Interrupted in his thoughts, Alex asked him of the significance.


"Well, I don't know about you lot, but I'm thinking--thinking food sounds fairly decent right now."

"I guess I'm a bit hungry. Dunno, better text Brie first, she might want to do something."

"Yeah yeah, rub your dating life in some more. Carver, you coming?"

"Guess so. Yeah, could eat."


With Alex and Carver taking George's example, the table became deserted as the three exited the room--Alex, his face buried in his phone, resumed his continual conversation with Brie. George helped Carver with his coat, then led the way outside. And then, the house lay empty.