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Lost in Translation

October 5, 2016

For today's post, I'm trying something a little different from my usual. I have more serious, essay posts coming up in the pipelines that I'm really excited about, but I wanted to share a little story I really enjoyed writing. It's a story written (almost) entirely in dialogue, called "Lost in Translation". I'm not much of a novelist, but I thought I'd share, so feedback welcome.

It was almost nine, and the sun had already set over the homes across the street. The days were getting longer now, but he still kept to his summer shirts, business casual, and a tie.

As he parked onto the curb and stepped out, he saw his porch light flicker on. Then the door opened, followed by a pair of high-heels and a dress.

She closed the door behind her, and walked out, oblivious to his arrival home. He walked forward, revealing himself in the light.

"Excuse me," he said, "Hey,"

"Hi."

"Going out?" he asked. Rhetorical.

"Yeah... I was."

"Where're you headed?"

"How was work?"

"About that, I've been meaning to tell you---"

"I heard from Evan already, it's fine."

"Isn't it a little cold for that dress?" he asked, looking her over for a blink, not quite enough to take her eyes off his, but enough to notice--

"No ring?"

"What are you going to do now?"

"What? Oh. When did you talk to Evan?"

"Two months, honey. I thought you had this one down."

"I don't think that matters right now."

"Your job?"

"No. You don't even have a car. Where were you going?"

"It's okay, It doesn't matter."

"Right."

And for a second, the silence hung in the air, damp in the mist of the cold evening. He broke the silence again.

"I'm trying my best, you know that. I've been--. I thought you were okay with it."

"That's what I said."

"Is that what you meant?"

"Let's go inside."

"Back inside?"

"Is something wrong?"

"This," he said. "This is."

The silence pressed harder against their eardrums.

"How long have you been out?" she whispered.

"And the same to you?"

"It's okay, I was just asking."

"Two weeks."

"Why didn't you tell me then?" she said.

"Look at yourself," he sighed. "What the hell? You're asking me why I didn't tell you when I got fired? You didn't stop complaining! I couldn't bear to talk to you about--"

"Your life, I know."

"Our life," he finished. "Not mine, ours."

He looked back at her.

"Can we please go inside," she said. "I'm not asking."

"Can you explain to me," he said, "what's going on?"

"It's not."

"What's not? Because in my shoes it feels like the world is just about ready to pull me down to hell from both sides. My work puts me down by the day, and then you seem to have better things to do than worry about me during the night. The only time I have for myself are just about the commutes, when I'm stuck in the sickly Brooklyn traffic trying to get myself a living in this nightmare. I can't breathe, but I don't die. I get cut open, but I can't bleed. I feel like the world is just about ready to punch me in the face for the last time, and I come home to this."

"Have you asked yourself...why? Why are you the way you are? Why do you struggle so much?"

He shifted back, blinking.

"Why can't you hold a job for long enough to pay our rents? Why can't you seem to understand that I exist when you don't see me? Why can't you just try to be normal for one day? Why can't you just stop?"

"If I knew," he answered, "I wouldn't be standing here. If I knew, I wouldn't be here."

He walked back around to his car, and stepped inside. As he rode away, her knees hit the ground. The stars collapsed onto her shoulders, and the night -- the night followed him to the end.