Sufficiently by Grey Johnson

At 10:30, she lets the dog in for the night. There is a raggy quilt on the bed that she cannot surrender, and as she slides beneath it, she becomes herself for the first time all day. She has a rolling table, like the ones you see in hospitals, for her laptop. Propped up on pillows, with the whirring and ticking of the ceiling fan, she feels the invisible humming of the lights pull close around her. She is pretending to be a writer.

Suddenly, another equally quiet person is there, having entered their chat using a long-remembered secret code. She used to think of him as someone to entertain with charming lies, but things evolve in unexpected ways. They exchange trinkets in the mail. She recently purchased a headset, and will soon hear his voice.

Television, like the tinkling of a cat’s bell, helps them to gauge their level of privacy. As it ends, spouses drift away to sleep somewhere else, relievedly. Quiet and privacy are necessary, of course, but they do not promise anything for her.

It is easy to be misunderstood late at night, tired and anxious for an unexpected sound. Tonight she has typed the wrong thing, which she does more often than she used to. As is his habit, like a virtual Socrates, he will allow her to reflect quietly on what that error was. Only when she explains herself sufficiently, will the special silent twinkle of his upcoming words resume.


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20 responses to “Sufficiently by Grey Johnson

  1. the silence, the stillness here, was palpable. also the stillness within her, and between them, it was all over, the stillness of the sleeping spouses, the stillness of secrecy. you really pulled it all together so well here. lovely and sad, in its way

  2. I can so relate to this woman. Wonderful sad and true response to the theme. Her inadequacy and tentativeness perfectly catpured in ‘pretending to be a writer’. Peace…

    • grey johnson

      Linda, I am glad you picked up on the tentative nature of this. It is not something I was intentionally trying to include, so you helped me see my work in a new way.

  3. So he gave her the silent treatment by not typing any more of the conversation until she figured things out? He silenced the silent conversation… Love the different meanings of ‘silence’ in this. :)

  4. Very well-drawn character, and the ending just hints at a troubling dynamic in a way that gives me chills.

  5. Yes, I loved the idea of her pretending to be a writer.

  6. grey johnson

    Hi, Matt. Well, that’s how it feels to me, from time to time. ;-)

  7. Yes, sometimes I feel like I am pretending to be an adult too. Will that pass?!

  8. You’ve brought a loveliness to a loneliness; so well done.

  9. Kim Hutchinson

    “the special silent twinkle of his upcoming words ” just blew me a way. Beautifully done.

  10. grey johnson

    Kim, thank you kindly. I have always been fascinated by the little sparkle you see when you wait for a response on instant messenger.

  11. Len

    i really like what you did with this and fluid use of the theme. very nice.

  12. I agree with all the comments already said! I want to also say, never doubt yourself, Grey. You can write! I am so thrilled that you are, and do. Thanks for your gift!

  13. grey johnson

    Robert, thank you for taking the time to read, and the time to read the comments of others. Your words were very meaningful, and a gift themselves.

  14. Pingback: Week #32 – Silence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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