Ethan Marcotte now blogs at Unstoppable Robot Ninja.

Weblog entry:

Everything but what I listen to

Her final message came in four minutes before I got back to my desk; she signs off, disconnects. I read through the conversation she had with my empty chair, angry that I’ve missed her, hoping that we’ll speak before another month passes.

She walks, but in the final few blocks your steps together have been slower, quieter. The silence of a few thousand miles still seems between you, but the air is cool and the streets are empty. You laugh, joke, walk past the hollowed-out homes of Boston; the soccer moms and stock brokers have long since gone to bed, leaving you to stroll through their streets, your occasional laughter a purple curl trailing past their now-dark windows. But even still, the silence remains, returns, relapses. You walk on.

A corner is rounded, and you enter the park; in the far end, behind the baseball diamond, a few dozen families are circled around a slipshod movie screen. Someone’s brought a projector out, the bright colors of Toy Story splayed across a blanket-thin wall in the sleeping center of Cambridge. You look at each other before sitting down, smiling. To the families around you, the movie’s a context, a backdrop: their children laugh, dance, throw dirt back and forth, squeal in mock-horror; parents talk quietly over their thermoses, regaling each other with stories of the day while chewing on half-eaten sandwiches, watching their dogs nip at each other between second and third base.

You only half-notice them. You sit there, the two of you, your arms pulling your knees to your chest, your faces upturned; you drink in the familiarity of the movie in silence, rapt. You can both quote the dialogue — even mouth the words at certain points — and watch the movie through to its all-too-known end. Still smiling. After it’s done, you both sit there, still silent, still watching: the screen is struck down, the families begin to leave. You get up, dust yourselves off, and continue to walk.

I leave work, and stop by the used music store. I buy three CDs, each one filled with songs she’s peppered mixes with in the past. I toss my purchases into my bag, and step outside into the sunshine; across the street, they’re rinsing the leaves from the gutter, blown there from the morning’s rain.


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