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by Martin Golan

The air is charged with what they will do next. He sees her wants, his needs, what they both are feeling. It impels him to talk about his writing, and it takes on an urgency he had forgotten. Why should he care what the class said? And shouldn't all his failures be glorious? He sees how his pride was wrecked, sees also Lynn's anxieties, how they are superseded by the hope that he will kiss her. She welcomes the conversation, giving no indication it is not what she wants.

Later, he drives her home farther north in Queens. In the car she sheds her proper-student behavior and turns animated, talking more than he. Leaving his apartment has freed her to be demonstrative, and she affectionately taps his forearm as he steers. She explains how her present insights do not obliterate the traumas of childhood. He helps her analyze, to appreciate a father's power, while his mind seethes with the content of their talk. They say goodnight in her living room with an awareness that her mother is out for the evening. They stand beside a painting of a child whose outsized eyes shine in a candle's too-real flame. He does not yet know what it is that he knows but understands that she has given him a gift. In gratitude, he pulls her against him and kisses her full on the mouth. She accepts the kiss for reasons other than it was given and takes great pains for her lips to be gentle. How he knows this becomes part of the journey he is about to embark on, which will take years, and never have a destination.

The house around them is eerily still, as if its lack of a man gave Lynn and her mother the power to maintain absolute control over noise. He leaves her standing at the door with her arms out in farewell, the house deserted, and she precariously fatherless.




Copyright 2007 by Martin Golan

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