“What is this about?”

I did not look at her when she entered the room, nor when she leveled the question. I played off the impending conversation, dunking hope in my little preoccupation, my pages of after hours work, that hope submerged in the inured schedule we had kept, more or less, since moving in together seven months ago.

“What is this about?” could have meant many things. It could have meant, without looking at her, that she was on the phone, and I had merely caught the tail end of a longer, ephemeral conversation. She sounded mad, so she would be mad, all over the apartment, with me in its wake, adding to her irritation if not at the moment able to drop these pages and put on even the semblance of concern. The semblance was more important than the feeling. Because it was the effort, always the effort.

But I made no effort to look up, even though I knew “What is this about?” was aimed at me, apropos of not much more than us, home together, but not having spoken for at least an hour.

I did the dishes, and she had cooked, and we both complained about our jobs, which we hated, in disparate but youthful ways.

She asked me again, and I finally had to look up from the pages, having read them dozens of times without recalling a single thing they could mean. For months we’d put off this conversation.

And I love her flatly for it, that she can ask something she knows the answer to. The effort of asking is almost too heavy to comprehend, because it requires an equally heavy effort to answer back. The easier answer is also the truer answer, though.

This isn’t about anything.

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