no difference between saying it loud and just thinking

(originally published in Dicey Brown magazine)

They started having sex like it didn’t matter.

They weren’t even trying to frown. It was just what happened to their faces when they weren’t feeling anything. They didn’t know if they would ever have sex again if they didn’t feel anything when it happened. This confused them; they kept having sex.

They guessed it was just a neutral sort of thing to do with their bodies.

They woke up in the mornings. They went to work. They didn’t know what to do after work. They stopped having sex. They woke up in the night. Instead of having sex they looked at each other and didn’t say anything. This was something they didn’t talk about. They didn’t know what it meant. Sometimes they looked at each other and thought, ‘We wake up at night and don’t say anything.’ Then they looked back down at the books they were holding or at the TV.

They watched Wheel of Fortune. They thought about how they were going to try to explain what was happening with the puzzles. They tried to put into words in their heads what they were watching. They quit because they remembered they were both there; they were looking at the TV together. It wasn’t necessary to remember what was happening so they could describe it later on.

They worried about this. They started thinking that the only way they knew how to experience something was by thinking of how later they would need to explain it to each other for it to be real.

They knew they didn’t do enough things alone to have anything to talk about.

They started describing trips to the grocery store. They told each other about the oranges they touched. There was no difference between saying it out loud and just thinking about the oranges in their heads.

This way they started to be able to talk about things without speaking.

They watched the news.

They watched four news shows.

It wasn’t difficult.

They felt calm.

They felt like watching one or two more news shows, then going to bed. They felt grateful for capitalism because it meant they had to do something every day.

It meant that every day they had something to do.