Never Is A Long Time

by Eva M. Schlesinger ~ Berkeley, California, USA

Never Is A Long Time, she decided, would be her pseudonym. Every writer needed one. She imagined shaking hands with dignitaries at the party and introducing herself.

For now she stayed huddled in the corner, trading inside jokes with the hummus or the sour cream and onion dip. They loved the company. She loved feeling appreciated. She loved that she could go to a party at all.

Usually she was a stay-at-home writer, who stayed at home. She sank into her black bean bag chair with gusto every morning at 10:00. If she did not sink in with quite the right amount of oomph, she stood up and tried again. Over and over till she perfected her gusto sinking. Revision was important to writers. That’s what she had heard. She was trying to do the right thing. Sometimes her gusto sank all on its own without her sinking into the black bean bag chair. Sometimes her gusto sank when she sank her teeth into black bean stew, which she thought would be good to eat, until she ate it twice a day fourteen days in a row.

At the party, she headed gaily forward or backward or sideways to the refreshment table. She ate the momos in her muumuu. She was on good terms with everyone on the refreshment table. They talked. They laughed. She communicated by waving her hand and diving it down into the nearest potato salad, then zooming over to the potstickers, and landing with a somersault of fingers into the chopped parsley, cucumber, and tomato salad, looking around at the people talking. They held wine glasses. Their lips moved much like fish and sea snakes doing the underwater do-si-do. A lot of what they said was gibberish. She couldn’t understand one word.

She preferred the quiet of the refreshments. They were refreshing. She left her card with them. She noticed the other writers carrying cards and, not wanting to be outdone, she got one too. She was standing around with Mr. Potato Chip, who was acting ruffled, when someone walked up to her. Someone who looked familiar. A man with blue blond hair. “It’s been a long time,” he said. “A very long time.”

She shook his hand. She said, “Never Is A Long Time.”

“A Very Long Time,” he repeated. “Pleased to meet you.” ■