Sorrow and that young woman discuss the future in silence over tall glasses of ice water. A damp towel, cold around her neck. The day is weighty and moist and hot, and she knits, with some determination, an enormous sweater that falls from her lap in heavy earth-brown folds.
Knit. Knit. Knit.
Beads of sweat pearl her upper lip. She rips back an infinite, unsatisfactory row. She rips back another because it felt so good to rip back the first. She picks each loop back up on the long, long needle with meticulous care. One stitch untwisted, then another. This takes approximately a century.
Water. She pats at the sweat on her lip with the towel. Knits and says, “I don’t have time for this right now. Kid to raise, work to do, unhappy enough as it is. Lonely. Uncertain. Knots in my strings I can’t untie. I don’t have time for this.”
Sorrow ravels the sweater from the bottom—a slow, slow process. He appears to think that the young woman doesn’t notice. But she does. He may well know this, but likes to pretend. He needs things to occupy himself since she is being stubborn and making him wait.
With the other hand, the hand unoccupied by raveling the sweater loop by tiny loop, he presses a glass of water against his forehead, condensation leaving a wet, red kiss. The refrigerator groans a Gregorian chant and his chair creaks in swollen protest as he stands, says, “I’m going to turn on the fan.”
She finishes a knit row, begins to purl. “Is that all you have to say?”
The fan splutters crankily to life in its wire cage, wings flapping, and his voice breaks up into shivery bits as he speaks into it, to her. “No. That isn’t all I have to say.”
Outside the window the sidewalk shimmers in the heat, everything is underwater but still the trees reach dryly skyward. It is hot. Hot, and Sorrow still has something to say. The brown sweater grows another fold. Sorrow sits back down and tugs another stitch, discreet.
“If you don’t make time for this, eventually the pulling will go faster than the stitching and there will be nothing left between you and me but a pile of tangled wool. Sometime, you need to attend to me. On the harder path you may have something real to hold on to.” He pulls again and she feels the loop come loose in his hand—inside, a knotted thing unknots. “You know this is true.”
“I know this is true.”
The fan blows over them both.
Suzanne Cody lives and writes in Iowa City, IA. Recent projects include essays in Pithead Chapel and The Timberline Review, and poetry in Crack the Spine and Gambling the Aisle. Suzanne served as a co-editor for The Seneca Review anthology We Might as Well Call It the Lyric Essay. She is an unapologetic creator of BBC Sherlock slash fanfiction.