We Need to Talk




We Need to Talk
 

Debbie decided it was time she talked to Bill about what she wanted. Needed, really. She should matter, too.
She watched him peering over his glasses at the TV. They sat in their gray fabric chairs, as they did every night, the seats long ago molded to their bodies. This thought brought images of coffins, and she wondered if they, too, eventually reshaped themselves to fit their eternal occupants.

Bill’s graying hair had thinned to wisps. His jowls sagged, and his stomach folded over his belt. She remembered running fingers through thick locks of hair and feeling the muscles in his face when they kissed. She’d changed, too. Her svelte figure had been replaced by wide hips and thighs, and her graying hair hung in dull strands no matter what she tried.

Time was running out. It was now or never.
“Bill, honey, we need to talk. Could you turn off ESPN for a few minutes? The same thing will be on in another hour. Or just record it if it’s that important. — No, you can’t just mute it because then you’ll just watch it without the sound. — Because we need to talk. — No, I don’t want any ice cream. I want to talk. — Yes, it’s that important. I was talking to Hunter the other day and he agreed I should talk with you. — Yes, he called. He’s doing fine. — Yes, he said he’d see you at the game this weekend. Honey, we really need to talk.”

She steeled herself for what she knew he’d say. “You know how we always used to talk about going on a tour of Europe? — I know it’s expensive, but you know it’s a dream I’ve had for, well, forever, it seems. — Where are you going? — No, sit down, please, and listen. I said I don’t want any ice cream. — No, you can’t have any right now either. We really need to talk about this. — Because it’s on my bucket list. There’s this festival in Paris this summer where everyone dresses up in period costume. You know, like Marie Antoinette or Louis XIV, and it sounds like fun.”

His question caught her by surprise. “My physical? — Yes, I . . . talked to my doctor about the results. — Yesterday. — I’m not talking about that now. I’m talking about going to Europe. — Not now. I’ll tell you later. I want to go to Europe.”

She paused as her voice caught, and she looked at the floor, realizing what she’d always known. She pressed on nonetheless.

“I want to do that one thing. Just that one.”

Looking back at him, she pleaded with her eyes, but as her father had warned, Bill was Bill. He’d do what he wanted. Her sigh sounded like a dying breath.

“Okay, fine. Never mind. You can turn your ESPN back on.”

She hefted herself from the chair, resigned to the habit of her life as the TV blared again. “How about some ice cream?” she asked.

 
Charles Tabb
 

 

Charles Tabb is a retired English teacher who now writes full-time. His first published story, “The Corruption,” is scheduled to appear in September 2018 in The Raven Theater Anthology. He lives with his wife, dog, and two horses in the Richmond, Virginia, area, where he is currently completing the final touches to his first novel while writing short stories and beginning work on a second novel.

 

Comments

Anne Kennedy said…
I have a feeling that this story hits home with a lot of readers. It's amazing how 500 words can trigger so many thoughts. This writer seems to have a deep knowledge of the conversations going on in many marriages.
K. E. Nielsen said…
The one sided conversation was so well written. You don’t even need to guess as to what Bill is saying. Now I want to communicate with my own spouse my bucket list dreams to make sure I don’t have a similar conversation in the future.
Christine Davis said…
Lovely writing. Cuts right to the bones of the situation.
Ann Wagoner said…
You had me at "She should matter, too."
Love this already.......
Carolyn Congelosi said…
Poignant story which reflects many aged relationships. Maintaining positive relationships whether it’s a marriage, friendship, family takes work. This story is a beautifully written example of “comfortable routine”. The author, in such such few words, put me directly into that living room, where I felt the desperation of the wife to be heard and the resistance of the husband to simply listen. You could easily replace the TV with the computer or smart phone and apply it to a younger couple, or child and parent. Talking with one another is a dying art.
Anonymous said…
This makes me think of my mother. She always spoke about traveling to Australia, and I know they have the money to do so. But her husband doesn't do well with traveling, he gets incredibly assiduous and ornery. So they don't.

At least they're active daily, even if they are routine.
Anonymous said…
This makes me think of my mother. She always spoke about traveling to Australia, and I know they have the money to do so. But her husband doesn't do well with traveling, he gets incredibly anxious and ornery. So they don't.

At least they're active daily, even if they are routine.

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