from Spleen


M. came into the office this morning, worked quietly for an hour, and then suddenly announced to G. (who sat in the cubicle next to her) that she got married yesterday. The news spread like a virus, until people stood up from their desks beaming at her from across the room, congratulating her and asking questions. She was then given the rest of the day off


For a long time we didn’t realize we were living under water; now that we know, no effort is being spared to rectify the situation


There was a moment of absolute weightlessness before the bus moved—I hung there, frozen in the act of bending forward to remove my backpack before sitting down. Then the bus moved, and I was poured into the lap of a young woman, who smiled faintly at my apology


The couple, seated together at a small table with an astonishing array of food between them—sodas, carrots, salad, bagels—both eating and looking down into books, not speaking. But when something amusing came up from one of the books, it passed through both of them simultaneously, in identical expressions, small smiles that pointed not at each other but down


She notices her from across the aisle on the bus.


The other one, who’s been eating an apple, acknowledges this address grudgingly, as though roused from sleep. They begin to talk, leaning to see each other through a forest of arms and legs. Both girls are frumpy, hippie types, hair greasy, voices full of “like” and “yeah.” The first croaks yeah, the second responds with a bloated, weary yeahh; gradually they’re drawn into a rhythm, searching for something to talk about: a friend’s new band which had played at the Tip Top, another friend who’s driving out from Ohio for the summer—“So we’ll have some wheels…” Immediately this friend takes on a life of her own, I picture her driving the interstate in the colorless light of dawn, cruising the plains into Iowa, then pointing her car into the sun’s long shadows through Nebraska and Colorado. She seems infinitely more sensible to me than these two, more down to earth, better groomed, simply because she’s from somewhere else and “has never been to California.” Yet with chagrin I see her arrive, and let her jeans grow threadbare, and her hair go unwashed, a greasy nest of barrettes and blackened roots


The waiter prepared the two salads on little plates, shredded greens and carrots smeared with dressing, and then, somehow holding them in one hand, with the other he slipped a spoon carefully into a full glass of wine, skimming something off the surface

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