I want to commit the details of this winter to memory and next year I will be able to figure out small differences. All around where I sit at the bar, this black and steel enclave, the roasting of coffee beans is taking place in gleaming metal barrels attached to flashing panels and space age exhaust piping. I can’t tell skill levels of the staff. I cannot tell if I will recover my ability to distinguish.
The ambulance came for my ex two days ago and I should really stay home to enjoy the house. I have discovered an ability to relax in the face of someone who is dying slowly and painfully. My sister said that the world is the reflection of my internal space. I am okay with her saying this. I perfect the art of the relaxed, so much so that I worry about being too grave.
A student of my ex has given him a Bugs Bunny and he took it with him in the ambulance. When I came into the kitchen in the morning I found splashes of pumpkin soup on the floor and fingerprints of it on the bench. When I passed his room he had been curled up, shrunken. Then I heard yelping like a puppy. I relaxed the muscles in my face and went to ask if I should call triple zero.
Please don’t talk to me like that, he said, and began to cry.
I was at a loss to know what he meant.
Girija Tropp’s fiction has appeared in several Best Australian Short Stories editions. She has published in The Boston Review, Agni, and has also won or been short-listed for major awards. Recently, her work has been anthologized in Café Irreal and Smokelong Quarterly: The Best of the First Ten Years. She lives in Australia.