P.S. I hate that I can't keep my formatting when copying/pasting into a blog post from the document on my computer, so forgive the lack of indents and such. Blah.
P.S.S. I've updated the title to this story now. Still not sure if it's perfect but I like it better than "Separately Together." Anyway, that's that.
By: Josh Marshall
“You haven’t eaten yet,” she said.
“I don’t want to,” he replied.
“You didn’t eat yesterday either. Aren’t you hungry?”
“My stomach says it is, but I’m not.”
“It’s been tasting better recently.”
She could hear the quiet rattling of his tray on the concrete floor as he picked at some raw vegetables with his hands. Forks were not allowed. A crunch echoed for a short moment then was followed by a couch and a scraping as he pushed the tray away.
“You really should eat, dear.”
“I would love some venison.”
“Even if it was dry like when you cooked it in the mountains over the campfire?”
“Maybe. I don’t really think anything sounds good.”
They were silent for a few minutes.
“What are you thinking about?” She asked.
“Everything. Nothing. I don’t know.”
“I just wish I could hold you,” she said.
“Don’t do this,” he groaned.
“Then we could sleep together. We wouldn’t need to even make love. Just sleep.”
“It’s too goddamn cold to sleep.”
“I think we’d manage.”
“No. They would just make it colder.”
“You aren’t in a good mood today, are you darling?”
“Today? It could be nighttime for all we know.”
“Would you like me to sing for you? That always made you happy,” she said and scooted over to the small grate in the wall that separated them.
“I don’t know. It might make it worse in this situation,” he said.
“I’m going to sing,” she informed. He sighed, but waited hungrily, hoping her voice would lift his spirits. She took a breath and he could hear it. That was his favorite part: hearing her lungs and throat and mouth work to produce beauty. Her voice came out timid and sweet. It was delicate like glass, the slightest disturbance would shatter the moment.
“Somewhere... Over the rainbow... Way up high...” She drew in another breath and he closed his eyes.
“There’s a land I heard of once in a lullaby... Somewhere... Over the rainbow...”
His eyes were still closed but he couldn’t lose himself in the fantasy like he used to. The images and feelings had left him and he found himself stuck in the present. No longer did he dread the fate they’d been sentenced to, but rather he’d accepted it and all at once he felt nothing.
“Stop it,” he said sharply. She did.
“I hate you,” he said.
“No you don’t.”
“I know. I just wanted to hear what it would sound like.”
“I would understand if you hated me a little bit, though,” she said. “It’s my fault we’re here.”
He said nothing.
“Really, Darling, you can hate me, but only a little.”
“I don’t hate you.”
“Not even a little?”
“But I said you could. I know you don’t need my permission, but I wanted to let you know I would understand.”
“I can’t hate you, even a little,” he said. “I think hate is an all-or-nothing type thing. Sort of like love, but less useful.”
“Has our love been useful?” She asked.
“It was. It got me through the days.”
“And now? Does it still get you through the days?”
There wasn’t much light in their cells, but he caught the smallest glimpse of her blonde hair through the grate. It didn’t shimmer golden as it used to in the summer sun or by candle light. It was dirty and unwashed and just plain yellow. But it was her hair and it always would be. Gradually, he would it see it turn white as his would in the years to come.
“It does. It always will,” he couldn’t see, but he could feel her smile. She started humming some other tune and he lay on his back, listening to her breathe.