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"Can I sit here?" her voice is small, almost as if she's afraid of what he's going to say. Which she is. They haven't talked to one another… not really talked to one another… for some time now. Not since everything changed.

"Go ahead." He doesn't look up to see who it is; he knows. He's heard her speak a thousand times before and he can hear the doubt, the fear, the hesistation between her words. He doesn't want to hear it, though, he doesn't want to feel the guilt that both of them feel for letting everything die, just like that.

"Are you sure you don't mind?"

"No, really. Sit down."

She would have rather that he had said no; it would have given her an excuse to hate him then.

She sits down, immediately moving to the furthest corner of the bench, he eyes not resting on his face but rather on his hands, idly plucking the strings of a guitar. There's no definite tune in his plucking, but every now and then she catches a repetition, as if something was trying to make itself exist as a song from among the random chords. He's not really playing anything, but she still asks. Small talk. An excuse to break the silence.

"What are you playing?" her voice hangs in the air. The guitar stops, his hands rest on the instrument as he raises his head for the first time too look at her. He expects to see her staring back at him; but she isn't. Her eyes still linger on his fingers, on the short nails and rough skin worn by years of playing.

He shakes his head. He would have said something, but he doesn't, just shifts and lets his fingers wander over the strings of the guitar, idle melodies floating as they pick out a tune. More out of habit than anything else.

She opens her mouth to say something; looks up in time to see him look away. Interested in something else. Seemingly. But he's listening to her, to every word she says and to the way she breathes in sharply before she talks and then he turns to look at her hands, resting docilely in her lap.

"I just needed to talk," she says, a monotone, automatic. She's said the same words so many times, but she doesn't think he listens anymore. She doesn't know that he does, and that it's not out of courtesy that he tells her to go ahead. She doesn't know that he listens to her talking about nothing because he wants to hear her talk about nothing and feel like she's saying everything.

He moves his fingers, plays a chord. Nods. She's looking at him, and she settles back as she begins to think aloud, the guitar providing a backdrop for her words. She doesn't think he's listening but she talks to him anyway. It's something familiar. Familiarity equals comfort.

"… and… I guess I can't do anything about it now," she finishes, for the first time since she came in feeling like she's failed. She's failed to move him, she's failed to stop the world from crumbling all around her. She thought he might have some reaction; he doesn't. His face is blank, like a mask as he continues to strum, picking out progressions, unperturbed.

She thinks he never heard her, and sighs. Stands up, straightens her skirt, runs a hand through her hair.

"I guess… I guess I should be going now."

"I guess you should," he replies not looking up but stopping his play for one minute as she shuffles through the door, closing it quietly.

He hears the click, only looking up when the already soft footsteps have faded away completely. His hands move to put the guitar down and he sighs, knowing that it's better for the both of them this way. It's just… better… like this.



© Marziya Mohammedali, 2001-2013