by Daniel DiPrinzio
They say everything changes with time. To her, that sounded like an evolution. But evolutions are supposed to be good, right? This change hadn’t been for the best. And there had been a definite change. In him. He wasn’t always like this. Give her some credit; she wouldn’t have married him if he had been. Then, he was charming, full of life; just being around him was something to do. Time passed easily. Jauntily. Now, it’s heavy, with sharp edges that dig into the skin.
They barely slept together, and that’s what she missed most. That wasn’t a euphemism for sex; they still fucked every now and again, and it was usually good; aggressive, animalistic, as they took out their frustrations about each other on each other. But they didn’t sleep in the same bed any more. At most, it was for a few hours at a stretch. By 3 or 4 he was out of bed, if he made it that long (or if he even made it to the bed). She guessed he went down to the sofa, but who knew. She used to ask him why.
They still laughed every now and again, but it was two separate experiences, strangers enjoying the same joke but doing it on their own, unattached, in spite of themselves. For her, laughter now was rueful. She imagined that, for him, it was a punishment. As if he deserved to stay in pain. She was convinced that was the only reason he hadn’t left yet. He needed to complete a penance. Either that or he was unwilling to go to an apartment. Though they say, in these crazy financial times, apartment living for adults isn’t as stigmatized as it once was.
The miscarriage is what really did it, she guessed. Well, miscarriage is what they called it to other people. ‘Procedure’ is what they called it to each other. But much like a rose, or anything else, an abortion is an abortion. And what were they doing in that clinic? She kept looking around at the people, huddled together not out of shame but out of a desperation that blew at you like heat from a dashboard in the wintertime. He muttered over and over, “What are we doing here? We don’t belong here?” And the first time he said it, she agreed. Then she realized they did belong there. That’s why they were there.
They say that people can overcome anything, and that any tragedy or strife or tough moment can bring people closer together. But what if the tough moment is necessary for people to realize they need to be apart? Then, to try and fight through it, to seek a silver lining that’s not there, would be the same as mocking it.
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Daniel DiPrinzio’s fiction and satirical commentary have appeared in literary magazines and newspapers around the country. I have three published books to my credit.
5 thoughts on “They Say”
Wow. Strong and thought-provoking. I’d like to see — and I think it asks for — a longer version.
A miscarriage in spades. A fetus and a relationship. The tone is unremittingly bitter. A couple of sentences seemed obscure to me. The first one of the third paragraph: “They still laughed every now and again, but it was two separate experiences, strangers enjoying the same joke but doing it on their own, unattached, in spite of themselves.” In spite of themselves? And then the ending two sentences. It wasn’t clear to me what was in danger of being mocked and what togetherness and mutual struggle they were engaging in. AGB
What she captures here is poignant and how she captures it is even more so. The line about the clinic and desperation is a great line and unforgettable! The only thing I would change is the last paragraph “They say”. It took me out of the intimacy but that’s the writer’s call.
Sorry, I missed the title is “They Say”. Okay, but I’d put it somewhere less obtrusive. Good luck! Love the story.
I’m not sure if I want to read any of your satirical commentaries. Your style in this story is morbid. Morbid and satirical must make a depressing combination. Still, that’s for you to do as you will with – I empathize with your characters here.