They set it up saying nothing. The table’s older than we are combined, a dull pastel green. There are scratch marks & stains & stories you’ll know by heart if they get you to play. It’s summer but it isn’t hot enough. It should be killing off a relative son of a bitch or two. She’s inside, bringing out drinks. There’s a computer trying to connect in my lap. I want to say something about you out loud. I want to kick the shit out of our quiet.
She comes out & in & in & out. The ice melts in their glasses, they keep finishing. Their heads turn slowly. She comes out to sun, after someone else offers to serve. The lab, Shadow, is beside her, by the pool. I hit refresh, refresh, refresh—until I say it out loud: there’s still no connection.
They play on, pouring stories. I picture the packing up, daydream about how nothing else feels as good as saying goodbye. Shadow stays beside her. They fall asleep, one looking up, one down. I come over & lean her head onto my left shoulder. I place Shadow’s in my lap. The internet works, someone notices, & burps. Six months later we’re announced. Six months later it’s a Sunday. It’s another day for the rest of us to gather.
Parker Tettleton is an associate editor at Short, Fast, and Deadly. His work has been published widely.