All Conversations Are Like This

Liz Wride

I becomes We.

Me becomes Us.

Forename gives way to My Other Half.


This is done subconsciously, as if shifting a weight from one palm to another.


*


I test the theory.


I ask a man I’ve never met before about the weather. It’s largely rhetorical, because there are fans whirling in the corner of the room, like a chorus.


‘My wife is in Spain.’


He speaks like someone setting sail. His words breathe air into a tall structure, whose canvas unfurls.


He tells me how warm it is in Spain and I picture a thermometer bursting, like the kind they show on heatwave news reports. He tells me his wife will travel back to this country in three days. He tells me that she studied out there, before they had their daughter.


It is then I realise, his wife is not in Spain. Instead, she occupies the tiny space between us.


*


All conversations are like this – except our conversations – except what you and I share.


*


In our conversations; you say: I.

In our conversations; you say: Me.

The words that are exchanged between us are not haunted by another.


It’s not that he likes you.

He’s just private.

He just doesn’t tell anybody.


In years to come, I’ll recall the resonance of your tone, and the fabric of my reality will fall away, like a collapsing sail; my universe momentarily reduced to a population of two.


*


They’ve bought a house.

A baby will come later.


There is a clear trajectory in these words, like a steadily rising temperature.


He’s bought a house.

She’s bought a nest.


*


I wonder, if our conversation will ever be haunted by your other half; partner; significant other; eventual wife.


He is devoted to his girlfriend.

What happened made him scared that he was going to lose her.


I wonder, if you did speak of her, would it sound like someone setting sail – or someone clinging to a life-raft.





___





Liz Wride is a writer from Wales. Her work has appeared in Okay Donkey Magazine, Milk Candy Review, The Daily Drunk Mag, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and others. In 2020, her short piece, ‘The Fairy Tailor’ was (virtually) performed by The Queens of Cups Productions. Forthcoming: her published fiction will be discussed in The Micro Podcast.