You’re Not Listening

.           .           .

We planned to go to an event at the art museum, but when I got to her house that evening, she was still in the shower.

“Why don’t you go without me?” she said.

“I don’t want to go without you. If you don’t want to go, we’ll stay in.”

I waited for her in the living room. Dismal daises in a windowsill wilted and drooped, and when she came from the shower in her terrycloth robe, she told me: “I made other plans tonight.”

“I don’t understand,” I told her. “We said we’d go to the art museum.”

“I know that we said that. But my friends are in town, and we decided to meet.”

“I’d love to meet them.”

“They’re deaf, though. We all are. You’d be the only one there who can hear.”

I touched the bloom of a withered daisy, and I stared at the bloom.

“I like you,” she told me, “but I think we need some time away from each other.”

“I think I’ll go,” I said. “You’re right: I should go.”

After work the next day, I found a note on my door. That was how it ended. I put the note with the other notes and rode to the park and left my bike by the base of a shade tree. The air was windy and cold. I walked home.

I went bowling with my friends that weekend, and they asked about Madison. I thought about calling her or about visiting her at the flower shop, but I went to the grocery store instead and filled my freezer with meat. I opened windows and listened for birdsongs. I heard machinery. Pile drivers. Trucks. Last February, a deaf man moved into my apartment building. He has red hair and always wears a stocking cap, and when I see him in the hallway or at the mailboxes by the door, I sign to him, and he signs back to me. How are you? we ask one another. Seen any good movies lately? How about the weather we’ve been having?

That kind of thing.



Casey McConahay is a Pushcart Prize-nominated author whose work has appeared in December, Lake Effect, and Southern Humanities. He lives in northwest Ohio.