Things discussed on couches

We’re on the phone and I’m trying to sound interested in what she has done with the rest of her vacation. She’s gone shopping, bought some new clothes, done some sort of hike somewhere she says is famous.

I’m on the couch with my legs crossed and I think of her, on a cramped sofa.

I shuffle playing cards and she goes into this story about a fight she had with her sister. She tells me it’s okay now, but she’s still frustrated because she’s always the one to concede.

I deal a new hand of solitaire and nod making sure to hum in agreement so she knows I’m nodding. She asks what have I been up to, what sort of trouble have I gotten myself into since I’ve been home for a week.

I begin to flip over cards, drawing three at a time. I first draw a six of hearts with nowhere to set it. I want to say fuck but instead I tell her I’ve only seen my family and some friends. One friend is having a bad time, his girl left him, his girl might move away, so I haven’t gotten into any trouble; I’ve been helping out.

She makes a sound; it’s her sound the one she makes when she sympathizes with someone. She made that sound when my dog was killed; when I told her of past family dilemmas.

I tell her she doesn’t know him…don’t worry I tell her, because they guy will be okay.

There’s this sort of pause in the conversation and I make a run. I draw two aces, empty a column, and place the King of diamonds down. I feel relief from the frustration of playing for two hours and not winning.

I tell her I quit smoking, quit for three days at least. Well almost, it is day three and supposedly after day three there is no more nicotine in your body and it’s all mental after that.

That’s good she tells me, she says that I should quit before long-term damage, irreversible damage.

I think of the bags that have begun to form under my eyes, and the yellow tint my skin has taken on.

She tells me she’s giving up soda, it’s been hurting her teeth, its been making her feel sick with headaches.

We both gave up something, we have something in common.

I go on another run, this time getting all the aces up and turning card after card over. But I’m missing one that could lose me the game.

We’ll see each other soon. She tells me things we should do when I get there. There’s a new place to eat, just opened, there’s this nice place we can sit and watch birds and stuff.

I’m able to empty another column and I find it, the missing card, like a key unlocking the final door. Now it’s over. Cards fall into place, suit to suit, number after number 8,9,10.

The car’s been acting funny, the gears are slipping, she won’t take it in. She asks if I’d know what’s wrong with it. I shake my head and hum negatively, so she knows I’m shaking my head.

I throw down the final King, the King of spades. I can relax. I lie back on the couch, listen to her voice and think how long I will quit this time.

Things discussed on couches

xstephens

Salt Lake City, United States

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