Otto told me that our opportunity had been squandered and that I should have felt compelled to contribute something. He said, ‘It is too bad you don’t understand what is happening here.’
And, I saw that it was true – that I had failed to do my best.
This was to be our short interregnum. How to proceed next?
That morning the wake-up radio music alarm had been set, but the volume knob had been wrenched by somebody, counter-clockwise, full-on. My first thought was that the window must be open and that the wind had caught at the blinds and that it was blowing across the fins – the slats, rather – and that they were vibrating and causing this tremendous sound before it dawned on me that this blast was something other and it made me afraid.
And, where did Otto go? He was missing and the window was indeed open and a small breeze lightly batted the venetian blind’s liftcord tassel against the wall.
In an hour he was back again and the look on his face was one of gratitude, and to add to this comforting effect, he smiled.
‘Where did you go?’ I asked.
‘Kay,’ he said. That’s my name.
‘You’re all I have. Where did you go?’
‘Do you like it here?’ he said.
‘No, I don’t like it here. Why should I?’
‘I know. I know,’ he said. ‘Some water?’ He had to walk and to walk, to go such a short way, it seemed, to get that for me.
We had another such dialogue the next day.
‘Do I have to say?’ he said.
‘Oh, Suzette,’ I said.
Later on he married the young girl.
I have had to wait for my own happiness. I married Eric Throssel, who is a good companion – and I thought I was very happy when we had finished supper one night. But the more important transport occurred en route to Long Grove while I was driving.
Eric spoke, and his words I don’t remember them, but thank God they served to release the cramping in my neck, and in my shoulders and my back and they provided for an unexpected increased intake of oxygen. Can we leave it at that?
'The Important Transport' was originally published in EGRESS #1.
Diane Williams is the author of eight books of fiction and the editor of NOON. Her Collected Stories is due out from Soho Press in October.