Greg Mulcahy

She said she aspired to the purity of dance.

You do? he said. Maybe take lessons, huh?

She did not mean actually dancing.

On the radio, a song of failure.

Early he was at his work. His work across the lot from a hospital. He watched an old Cadillac park and some country people get out and walk to the entrance. Visitors, maybe.

He did not know what she meant.

Some Ballet Russe of love?

Once he'd gone to the hospital cafeteria for lunch. His colleague, Campos, told him against the cliché the cafeteria had excellent food. There, he smelled something.

Soup. MSG. MSG soup.

Once she had written him a serious letter on peach-colored paper or did she only say she had done that.

It did not matter.

No more than the soup.

He and Campos among the obsolete.

Redundant they would be called in some other country he'd heard a broadcast from.

The dead, she said, are still dying even in the warmth of this beautiful day.

If they are dying they are not yet dead, he said.

No talking to anyone.

What salvation this?

She cleared her throat.

He had never noticed her to do that before.

He sometimes thought things that did not make sense. For example, with all this fiddle-fuck-around and so-and-so, how much of that was just courtesy sex?

Life lived in expectation, anger, and bitterness.

This only life.

Maybe he would ask her forgiveness.

Even in the beauty of this warm day, she said, the dead are still dying.

Maybe not say anything.

What comes to all.

Your shirt, she said, looks like the wallpaper in the painting.

It's striped, he said.

So is a tiger.

Peach. Wasn't that strange.

Greg Mulcahy is the author of two collections of stories—Out of Work, and Carbine—and a novel, Constellation.

To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/201104lot.htm

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Eamonn O Muiri.

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