“Will,” she says to him, “I see your July sadness taking hold.”
“I know. I’m sorry, Lin,” he says.
Will is standing by the lone window in the kitchen. One of the windows they’ve decided to have replaced. All of the windows need replacing. The cold air comes through them in the winter, and the heat in summer. The humidity in any season finds its way in. He is almost as old as the house is. He feels like his own heat is escaping. A coldness seeping in.
Linda is standing beside him.
“Do you remember that small two-bedroom we lived in, next to the big Congregational church in Brooklyn on Carroll Street that one winter?” he asks her.
“Of course. With the broken tile in the bathroom and the kitchen faucets that dripped, and wood floors that buckled and sloped toward the center, and how my mother came to stay with us to help with the twins.”
“And the windows that were cracked and broken and let the snow in?”
“And all five of us slept in the same bedroom at night to keep warm? Is it the windows that you’re worried about?”
“A little. I don’t know how we can pay for them. But, no, it’s not the windows. Not really.”
“Everything as in everything? Me everything?”
“Not you, Lin. The world. The country. So much is going on. All at once. I’m sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. But you haven’t shaved since Friday. You’re looking forlorn. Lost, in lonely the way you get. I knew this was coming.”
“You’re acting as if it’s my problem, all of my own doing.”
“It is, though, isn’t it?”
“How can you say that.? Roe v Wade, the EPA, open carry, the separation of…”
“I know. I know. The world is too much with you. You need to take some of it off of your shoulders.”
“Us. Isn’t it ‘too much with us’?”
“Yes, us, you’re right. But I mean you and me. Not everyone worries like you.”
“Yes, your sister does. And Wordsworth did.”
“And Sinclair Lewis.”
“Yes, Sinclair Lewis.”
“And you, too,” he tells her.
“Yes, me too. But I am more concerned about you, Will. When I see you get like this, I know what’s coming. It’s like when I see the first fruit fly in July. It comes in the door or hidden in a bunch of grapes, and then they’re all over everything. The bananas, the peaches, the lemons. And when, I see that the look in your eyes, the far away, sad, searching look, as is if you alone need to figure it all out, or the world will crash, I know what’s coming. You start to lose patience with people. What they say. How they say it. Question their meaning. Not always. Only when you get this way.”
“What do I or we do?”
“About which, she asked.”
“The fruit flies. Me.”
“The same for both. Clean up. Scrutinize and wash everything that comes in the house, put the bruised fruit in the refrigerator, eat or compost the rest. Maybe even buy only what you can use or read in a day. And, absolutely, stop reading It Can’t Happen Here. Now. Today.”
“But, I’m almost finished. I have only eighty-three pages to go.”
“No more pages. Fini. You don’t have to finish it. Listen, either he liberates everyone from the concentration camps and prisons and saves his family and the whole country in the end, or he doesn’t. Right?”
“I just want to see how it turns out.”
“How it turns out? Will, does that matter? It’s a book. It’s not your horoscope. Look at me. The ‘It’ in the book is happening right here. Right now, today. I see it. You see it. I know that. You know that. Anyone paying even the slightest sliver of attention knows it. But you seem to feed on it. Or it feeds on you. You read about it, talk about it, write about it, resent others for not talking about it. You drink it in. You can’t get enough of it. You need to stop.”
“I know, but it is all so horrible, so planned, so evil, so depressing.”
“Go get the book, Will. The book and the country are two different things. Similar, yes. But one you have some control over and the other, you don’t.”
He retrieves the book from his bedside table.
“Give it to me. I’ll put it in the refrigerator for you. It will be safe in there, and here, read this one.”
“The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing?”
“Yes. You’ll love it. You’ll laugh for a change. You’ll smile. You’ll nod your head. You’ll give yourself a break from the angst. Wordsworth is gone. Sinclair Lewis is gone. Rousseau is gone. Huxley and Orwell. Gone. We are here. Right now, and we will endure. I know others will not, and that saddens me. But we will endure.”
Yes, is that not what we are together for? To be together here and now? To share the load? We need to have the windows replaced because we are too cold in the winter and spend too much to heat the house… we can’t expand the supreme court, or eliminate the filibuster, or save the eel grass and the Amazon rainforests all by ourselves. We can only do those things if we feel empowered, not downtrodden, defeated. Let’s give ourselves a break before we both feel like a broken, leaky, window letting in the heat and fruit flies. Can you do that with me?”