In the Imaginary Future

Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts:  imaginary future, what will become of me, more than a little alarmed, flirting and fluttering, let’s get physical, light that you cannot see, what is surrender?—joining the winning side, a Sunday afternoon, living with it, huge, impetuous and prickly, Sweet William—my guitar, charming dork, cat

“In the imaginary future,” I said, “we will sleep late and lie in bed until Sunday afternoon, and when we get up we’ll eat chicken and dumplings.”

He grinned at me.  It was a game we played at dinner sometimes.  Especially on hard days, when we were eating canned beans with no pork or bacon, with nothing but ketchup packets for seasoning.  He closed his eyes, thoughtful. “In the imaginary future,” he said, “I will get another guitar and I’ll name it Sweet William.”  He opened his eyes and glanced at me quickly.  “Sorry,” he said, squeezing my hand.  I shrugged.  Sweet William was my huge tuxedo cat.  We hadn’t seen him in weeks, not since the fire came this way.

“In the imaginary future,” he continued in a fluttering, flirty voice, “we’ll get another cat, maybe two or three of them.”  I smiled weakly at this, wanting to balance the mood.  But I was sad, and no matter what he said he couldn’t change that.

When I fell in love with him, he was a charming dork, an intellectual, organized and analytical.  The war had brought out anger I didn’t think him capable of.  Sometimes to sooth him I would resort to seduction, but I didn’t feel like getting physical at this moment.  I chewed another spoonful of beans, worried he might get impetuous and prickly.  The night before he’d declared that in the imaginary future we should both just surrender, and join the winning side.  I told him not to talk like that, surely he was just tired.

“There is a light,” I told him.  “We just can’t see it yet.”

It was the type of thing we’d say to each other, to calm each other down.  But he looked at me, his mouth and jaw as tight as a clenched fist and I was more than a little alarmed.  What would become of me if he lost it, if he felt he couldn’t go on, if he decided to desert?

Tonight he bowed his head and I couldn’t read his mood.  He stood up and stared out the window.  “Oh, hey,” he yelled gleefully.  “I almost forgot.  I found a packet of cookies.”


“Yeah.”  He reached for his backpack and pulled out a sleeve of some generic sandwich cookies, some imitation Oreos.  I didn’t ask where they’d come from.  Probably from a bombed out house, the dead residents still at the kitchen table, or maybe he’d found it in a grocery bag at the feet of a dead man, picked off by a sniper in the street.  It was a relief when he told me he found the sealed package in a garbage can.

We each took one, then touched them lightly together before we took a bite, as if we were clinking champagne glasses.  “In the imaginary future,” he said firmly, “we will always be together.”

“Yes,” I echoed, my voice equally resolute.  “In the imaginary future.”

Photo by Donald Giannatti at Unsplash

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