You’re Not Listening

images from Up in the Air series by Margret Wiss


You’re Not Listening

Casey McConahay

She picked through half-eaten salad drowned in pools of ranch dressing. A man behind us discussed an article he’d read in the latest Reader’s Digest, and as the man explained that the secret to looking younger was drinking cucumber water, I took the spoon from my plate and tapped the spoon in my palm.

“Deaf?” I asked Madison.

“Deaf,” she replied.

“But you’ve heard what I said. You can hear me.”

“I have my hearing aids in. Yes, I heard.”

She stabbed her fork in a cherry tomato. It sprayed red juice on the table, and the spoon in my palm drummed a theme-song I knew from a sitcom. She sank the ripe, round tomato in a puddle of ranch.

“We don’t have to see each other again,” she told me. “I understand that it’s different.”

I stung the skin of my palm with the tapping. She liked Terrence Malick movies and rode her bicycle in the city. She talked about things like moral relativism and biodiversity and said that if she could go anywhere in the world, she’d go to New Caledonia to look at flowers and birds. Her smile was warm, and she liked to go camping.

“This is nice,” I told Madison.

“Yes, this is nice.”

She ate the last dripping pieces of lettuce.

“They have great steaks here,” I told her. “Do you want to get steaks?”

“I’m a vegan,” she said.