Aphorisms

From the story Angelfish

As in:

When I visited Seattle five weeks after Marjorie’s miscarriage she had begun to eat again but her complexion was ashen. By then, she’d left the small house on Capitol Hill where she and Gregory had been living and moved in with friends in West Seattle. We walked Alki beach in a misty rain. I told her I thought she loved Gregory. She exhaled a stream of smoke and bit her lip.

“I think so too,” she said, but the look on her face was that of a child left alone in a strange place.

“He would like to hear that,” I volunteered.

“You think I don’t know?” she replied in frustration.

mc2smuOur sister Leslie tells me I tend to be too linear in my approach to things. I tell her that running a small business is not as easy at it looks, that there are times when it is necessary that the faith life requires be reduced to a handful of aphorisms or sports metaphors. It lessens the handwringing.

“Life isn’t like football,” Leslie says.

“But at least there’s a clock in football,” I reply.

When I arrived at Marjorie’s place the following evening with a thoughtful approach to saving her marriage a woman named Susan answered the door to explain that my sister would not be receiving visitors. There was a misunderstanding, I explained, I am her brother. Of course she’ll see me.

We argued.

Susan sounded a lot like something she’d read recently. This made me angry, which only confirmed Susan in her diagnosis, which only made me angrier. I would have kicked against the door were it not for the appearance of a second woman with a camera poised to capture the scene of a typical white male from eastern Washington in a hostile display of insensitivity.

So I captured a deep breath, aimed what was left of my heart at Susan and told her to tell my sister that I loved her, that Gregory loved her too, and that I had to go.

I’ve never felt worse leaving Seattle.

It’s not long after you cross Lake Washington that you realize you’ve left a complex metropolis and are headed toward a gaping landscape where wind blows against basalt palisades and an unmasked simplicity.

Or so it seems.

Next story segment, Amoebae

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