The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glasses on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The man experienced a jolt of lofty cognition at this point, for in that same given moment he saw, this down to earth girl that smelled good and wanted to be a nurse who would take and hold one of his hands in both of hers to unfreeze him and make him look at her, and she would say that she cannot do it. That she knows he does not love her, not that way, has known it all this time, and that it’s all right.
“I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time,” he said.
“Then what will we do afterward?”
“We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before.”
How they were before was that he remembered how he never declared any real feelings, but neither did he ever open up and tell her straight out he did not love her. This might be his lie by omission.
“Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.”
He had never believed in Hell as a lake of fire or a loving God consigning folks to a burning lake of fire–but the signs of her cracking moved him with pity, and also with something more, something without any name he knows, that is given to him in the form of a question that never once in all the long week’s thinking and division had even so much as occurred–why is he so sure he doesn’t love her?
To stir more of the craziness working in his mind, the girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.
[The piece is called “Mishmash” because this is what the instructor asked for on the assignment, to blend the writing of these two famous writers to put a spin of my own atop the result.]