Words Overheard

The woman behind me blows her nose tearfully, quietly.
She’s married, with a few children.  One in university, one in grade 11.
They’re good students. They have a future.  They’re girls.
They’ll know hardships, but she’s hopeful for them.
She’s just listened to the same conversation I have.

Snippets of overheard conspiracy drift our way as
A man convinces a woman – his lover? –
To leave her husband.
She has kids.  She has worries.
He dismisses them with a wave of his hand.
In a conversation with this man, her replies – quiet and unheard –
Mean nothing anyway.  Because he sees only one side.
And his words, harsh and critical fall over our ears.
And the married woman behind me snuffles, imagining such a thing in her own life,
And I listen, curious as to how this plays out,
Outraged at his dismissive attitude to her fears,
Worried for her future, and wondering
How many times this same conversation has taken place.

His quick paced, accented tongue, flying over his words,
Licking his lips, sipping his coffee.
Starbucks, as the appropriate location for a private affair
And conspiracies in public.  Gentle laughter, free of tears,
Does not match the weighty content of his accusations and
Their conspiratorial conversing.
His words, floating and broken, over the ears of
The crowd, and through the pane of the glass looking onto
A car-filled parking lot:

He despised you as much as you despised him

Where does it come from? The movie stuff? It comes from real life.

People are together, they break up, and they get back together. It happens

Whatever. [mimicking voice]

Stops you from leaving your husband. You’re weak.

You don’t have everything you want.

You’re going to walk away from a house and home? No. you’re going to walk away from children? No.

You’re going to be broke? No. You’re still going to have your job.

You’re going to lose the one thing in your life that you don’t want. Your husband.

You spend 6, 12 months building a home for you, your children.

I had no interest in her. She was a foolish teacher.

Who was your first love?

What about me?

You’re not going to change and neither is he.

He might be this…but guess what? He is who he is.

You’re making a mistake now. You’re hurting.

Why am I here now? You tell me. You have all the answers. You just tell me.

I have lost you, so you obviously know better than me.

Okay, but let’s not talk childish now. I just contradicted you. But I will go out with us again.

You’re lying to me.

You don’t love him. Do you want to be with him?  Watch the Notebook.

Do you reckon he’s happy?  Do you think when you hug and kiss him, he honestly thinks: life is good.  You don’t have to break his ego.

Well you’re a fake.

Is this a game?

So just stay.

Does he act like a child? Does he act like a child? Of course he does, so very childish.

He’s demanding.

Careful what you wish for. What you mean.

Kitchen. A couple of weeks before Christmas.

‘Well you do that for everyone’. Go to Toyota now.


I’m sad for you and I wish….

You’re going to be on your own.

There was a kidnapping three years ago…

She was a liar, she lies now about it.

He hasn’t cheated on his wife…

If I was happily married, would it be okay if you were my wife, that I went over to this single mum all the time.

He’s going, no, no that’s not right.

No Christmas presents; wouldn’t put a penny on the table.

[I guess I should go.]

Me too.

It’s an exotic image. We flirt with what we can’t have.
We flirt with our dark desires, because how could we ever own them?
How could we commit? So we laugh at this play, this show of words.
In a serious conversation, are we laughing off the possibility,
or are we laughing off our fear of the unknown?

Shall you commit to ‘wrong’? Shall you leave everything you know?
Is it worth it? The judgment, the fact that turning back is impossible
once you’ve started.  So many things hold us back.  And should they?
That’s the question.
Is what we imagine to be dark, really so bad?
Maybe what we think is light, and good, is terrible and trapping.
But it’s right, they’ll say.
Are they wrong? Are we?

I don’t know if she’ll leave her husband.
Will she think about how this man is treating her?
The abusive, the controlling, the accusing, the dismissive attitude.
The fact he’s left or cheated on his previous – current? – wife.

The thrill is there.  I can feel it from seats over.  It’s dark, it’s dirty, and it’s tangible.

It’s a plunge only one wants to make, because his life is over without a partner.

Will she end her life, for him?

[Will she begin her life for him?]

The mother behind me has left, just before the couple.
She doesn’t hear how the end plays out.  She doesn’t want to.
She doesn’t know if the other woman has decided to leave her husband.
She doesn’t know if they have come to a conclusion at all.

I stayed and listened. I’m here even after they have left.

I know as much as the woman who left before me.

I’m not meant to know anything at all.