Breathing Water

Free Breathing Water by T. Greenwood

Book: Breathing Water by T. Greenwood Read Free Book Online
Authors: T. Greenwood
Tags: General Fiction
in the soft bed. But the bed is empty, the mountain of quilts and blankets deceiving.
    I return to the kitchen and gently push the door open.
    He is sitting in an Adirondack chair facing the lake. He has dragged the heavy wooden chair from the shed to the front yard without me noticing. His arm rises and falls. I think about how to approach him. I practice my words. Pick a door, pick a door. If I’m lucky, I will say the words that will make him cradle his head in my arms. Or, better still, the chosen words might make him laugh. But more likely there is only one door and behind that, opened by any words I might choose, is the tiger.
    He doesn’t hear me approaching. I watch his arm rise and fall. There is a rhythm to everything he does, it seems. Breathing, stirring, drinking.
    He is quiet.
    â€œI’m sorry I fell asleep,” I say.
    I sit down on the ground next to him and when he doesn’t speak, I lean my head against his soft arm.
    â€œHave you thought about this fall?” he says, not looking at me but straight ahead.
    â€œWhat do you mean?”
    â€œI mean, what do you think will happen to us this fall?”
    â€œI don’t know,” I say. My heart is skipping beats. He is asking me a question I don’t want to answer.
    He frowns.
    â€œDon’t worry,” I say.
    â€œYou’re going to leave,” he says.
    â€œWhy would you say something like that?” I ask, lifting my head.
    â€œBecause it’s true, Effie. You’ll go off to New York this fall, meet some cocky bastard who sweeps you off your goddamn feet with a glance, and then I’ll get the phone call. He’ll probably be lying right next to you, sticking his tongue in your goddamned ear, while you make up some excuse. You’ll cover the receiver, but I’ll still be able to hear you giggling, telling him to stop. And then you’ll lie.” He is not looking at me. He is staring at the lake.
    â€œOf course, you’ll tell me what you think I want to hear. Tell me what you think will keep me from tearing the phone out of the wall and throwing it across the room. And all the while he’ll be sitting there.”
    â€œMax, why are you doing this?” I ask. I am shivering.
    â€œBut I will hurl the phone across the room. I’ll rip the phone out of the fucking wall so you won’t have to hear me. And because all you’ll get is a dial tone, you’ll always wonder. You will always wonder what happened after the jack came out of the wall,” he says.
    â€œWhy are you doing this to me?” I ask, allowing tears that I hope will evoke some sort of tenderness from him.
    â€œI’m telling the truth. Isn’t that what you want, Effie? You’re not pissed off because I’m accusing you of something but because there’s truth to everything I’m saying. You’re looking for a way out. I can see it in everything you do. From the very beginning you’ve been trying to figure out how to get out of this.”
    â€œI am not,” I say. But I realize I am lying. I dream the man he fears. “Where did this come from? I’m here, aren’t I? Why can’t you let yourself be happy?” I stare into his eyes, which frighten me with their vacancy.
    â€œWhy don’t you let yourself be happy!” he cries suddenly. His voice is shrill. He raises his arm to drink, suckling the bottle with his pale lips. “It must be great, to be so simple and small. You have an easy life, Effie Greer. All you need to do is wave your magic Tinker Bell wand and make everyone happy. You spread your fairy dust, and everything is A-OK.”
    â€œI don’t have to listen to you,” I say and start to get up.
    â€œOf course you don’t have to.” He smiles. “But you will.”
    â€œWhat happened to the cioppino?” I challenge him.
    â€œFuck you.”
    â€œDid you burn it? Did you forget a pot while

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