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The Longest Goodbye  >

by Cezarija Abartis

 

Jeff’s fingers hovered over the bookshelves. “I like Edgar Allan Poe.” He stroked the book’s spine. “My step-dad hated him. I liked the stories and ideas. The burial, the black cat, the cask of amontillado. Revenge, death, punishment.”

Robbie laid his head on the back of the couch and yawned. “I hate books. I want to travel and eat great food in faraway places.” He pulled at his Jay-Z t-shirt.

“I hate books too.” Lily said. “Except for myths. I like myths. It would be awesome to think the gods walked beside us on the streets. I wonder what they’d do. If there were gods.”

Jeff turned from the bookshelves and stared at Lily. “In the Roman myths all they do is rape the mortal women.”

Robbie raised his head. “Do you know that for a fact?”

“I read it in a book.”

Robbie waved his hand dismissively. “A book.” He settled into the couch. “A book isn’t real. A knife is real. A gun is real.”

Jeff said, “A book can tell you how to make a knife – or a gun.”

“Okay, maybe a book can be useful but not a storybook.”

Lily tapped Robbie’s shoulder. “I told you I liked the myth stories.”

“Baby, for you, I’d make an exception.”

“I’d like to have a library in our house.”

“A roomful of books.” Robbie sighed. “Well, if that’s what you want.”

“It could be my hobby – reading books. People have all kinds of hobbies. Collecting stamps, collecting dolls. I could try reading books, maybe getting smart.”

“I don’t want you to get too smart for me.” Robbie smirked and patted her hand. He moved closer to her on the couch and kissed her cheek. “My favorite hobby is making out.”

Jeff took a step toward Lily and Robbie as though to insert himself. “Plato didn’t like stories either.”

“What?”

“He was a Roman philosopher,” Lily said, as she caressed Robbie’s cheek.

“A Greek philosopher,” Jeff said.

“Who cares? They’re all dead anyway.” She ran her fingers through Robbie’s hair and kissed him on the mouth.

Jeff rubbed at his mouth. “My Grandpa died. Pancreatic cancer.” Jeff snapped his fingers. “Just like that.”

Lily stopped kissing Robbie and leaned forward. “I didn’t know.”

“It was when we still lived in West Virginia. I’ll probably get it too.”

“Are you telling the truth?” Robbie asked. “Or is this just a story?”

“My grandpa’s hobby was shooting squirrels.”

“I don’t believe that,” Robbie said. “There wouldn’t be anything left. They’re so little.”

“It wasn’t to eat them – he just liked shooting.” Jeff made a pistol with his hand and aimed at the floor next to Robbie’s feet. “He was a good shot.”

“My grandpa died too,” Lily said.

“I know,” Jeff said. “We have a lot in common, you and I.”

“Yeah, we do,” Lily said. She put her arm around Robbie’s shoulders and spoke with resolve. “This is my hobby. This is my life.” 

 

published 16 October 2013