Route 7 Review
Issue # 2015
Charles Rafferty has published poems in The New Yorker, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. His stories have appeared in The Cortland Review and Sonora Review. In 2009, he received a creative writing fellowship from the NEA. Charles's tenth collection of poems, The Unleashable Dog, was published by Steel Toe Books in 2014. His collection of short fiction, Saturday Night at Magellan's, was published by Fomite Press in 2013. Currently, Charles directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.
Why didn't you keep the flowers? Even if you didn't like them, you could have brought them to the office. That Marjorie always has a sour look on her face. You could have said they were from you. Instead, I had to watch the deliveryman take my bouquet of asters and ox-eye daisies back to his idling van — the tailpipe of which was slowly blackening the snow piled up against the curb.
I might as well tell you I've been watching. I can see you staring at the phone in your bedroom as my voice comes out of it. I want to talk to you, but not like that.
When you get home, I watch as you pull the curtains shut, and I content myself with your shadow moving around behind them. Later, I see you reach for the venetian blinds. You let them fall with a thump onto the sill, but they're always a little crooked. I can see your pants darting back and forth in that little corner on the lower right side. I like that about you — you don't feel the need to make everything perfect.
Eventually, the living room lights go off. Then the bedroom's. That's when I feel there's no reason to stay up. Of course, if you went to the bathroom, I'd still be able to see the top of your head as you sat on the toilet, but it's hard to muster that kind of stamina, night after night.
I'm worried about sending this letter. You're liable to say I'm crowding you, that I don't understand boundaries. I've heard that before. But seriously, if you just picked up the phone when I called and asked about my day, you'd see that I'm alright. I just want to hear your voice as I sit here in my underwear thinking of fonder times — back when we were a couple, when we were taking on the world.
I know what you'll say to that — that we were never a couple, that I was just some guy you met in the grocery store, that I read your address off the check you were writing and rented a room on the other side of the street — all so I could watch you do the dishes and straighten up your knick-knack shelf.
Let's be honest. You're not dating anyone. At least I've never seen a man stay over, and as best as I can tell, you always come home. I suppose you could be having some kind of fling in the afternoons, but that doesn't seem likely. You work and you come home, and your errands consist entirely of banking and groceries and Pilates.
Well, since you're probably wondering now: Yes, that was me who jumped behind the trash can when you went into Fitness World at 7:57 on Tuesday night. I didn't want to spook you. I had noticed you lingering in front of the flower shop, and when I went up to the window, so that I might touch the fog of your breath upon the glass, I saw the vases full of asters and ox-eye daisies.
I'll be watching when you read this. If you want me to call, just come to the window and wave.