Hear That?

Written with the prompts:  head bowed in silence, is that all there is?, hear that?, a couple walking into the fog, yangy tangy, one good reason, tired of using words

“Hear that?” he asked as we pulled up to the sidewalk to exit the high rise parking garage.

“What?” I asked, feeling distracted as I inched the car forward to get a better view of oncoming traffic.  

“Hear it?” he repeated.

“Sure,” I mumbled as I pulled hastily into the right lane.  He tapped my hand on the gear shift.  “They only make that sound when they’re nesting.”

I took my eyes off the road to gape at him, his head bowed in silence, his eyes closed as if in meditation.  God, I prayed silently, as I returned my attention to driving.  God!  Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t smack him right here and now.  I took a deep breath.  I’d finally gotten ready to make him leave—I’d actually planned to tell him tonight—and then he went and started talking about birds in their nests.  He knew I was a sucker for that.  I cleared my throat.  “Who’s nesting?”

“Scrub jays.  You know those yangy tangy squawky birds.  With the blue backs and gray fronts.”

“I know ‘em,” I said.  I didn’t tell him that I couldn’t hear ‘em.  How could anybody hear anything in this traffic?  It was nearly five o’clock.  I should never have let him talk me into coming downtown on my day off, knowing the movie would get out at this hour.

He was rolling the window down in the brisk weather, but I was too tired to say it made me cold.  I was tired of words.  I wanted to communicate the way he and the scrub jay did.  I wanted to make a gentle noise that only he could discern.  I wanted to throw out my phone and resign from Facebook and Instagram and flirt with no one but the river.  I wanted to collect green oak leaves and acorns and crow feathers and bits of shiny paper.

“Where are you?” he asked me, and I noted then that I had missed the turn toward home.  “Are you going to the grocery store?”

“Sushi or szechuan?” I asked him, not because those were the foods I was craving, but because the words suggested a quietness, an onomatopoetic pair strolling into the fog.

He shrugged.  “I’ll cook whatever you like,” he promised.  “But let’s go home.”

Photo by Ken Goulding on Unsplash

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