Matthew Savoca

from “I Don't Know,” I Said

When we got home we were sweating, it was a long walk, it was hot out, so we each took our pants off and sat on the couch. Carolina tossed her jeans on the floor and I folded mine, placed them neatly on a chair and thought about how that was something I cared about – clothes placed neatly. I went into the kitchen and poured water into a glass and drank some, then I gave the rest to Carolina. We washed ourselves and then caught the bus to go to lunch. We waited a long time for the bus and Carolina was hot and sweating, much more than me. I tried to get her to stand in the shade of the bus schedule sign but she would only do it for a few seconds and then walk away. I watched a bird, the sky, and then a middle aged Korean woman kicking a rock up the sidewalk. When the bus finally came it was so cold inside that the sweat on Carolina's neck froze and gave her cramps which she felt at night when we were trying to sleep.

We had lunch with grandparents two and three. The usual lunch: a lot of food, too much cheese. Ancient pictures. Stories to go along with them. An anecdote about Abraham Lincoln, how some little girl from Kansas had convinced him to grow a beard so that people would take him more seriously.

When we left their apartment, we left with a lot of dried garlic cloves and fresh hot peppers. At home again we planned to rest and not do anything, watching reruns of Sex and the City or something else, anything easy so that we didn't have to think about whatever else, but we ended up going out to see a friend of Carolina's downtown. Neither of us wanted to go, but we both kind of wanted to go, and for some reason thought we should go, so we went. The bus was late and had trouble getting past the arena because there was a Madonna concert that night. "I hate being late, this is awful," Carolina said.

"It's okay," I said.

"It's not okay, we aren't going to be a little late, we are going to be a half an hour late."

I typed a text message that said, "We are going to be a little late," and got a message back that said, "It's okay, I'll go for a little walk and meet you at the fountain at 8." I explained it to Carolina but she just stared at the floor of the bus. I looked at her and then out the window.

After a few minutes she said, "This is ridiculous."

“What is?” I said.

“We are.”

"Why do you have to be so negative?" I said. "It's fine, whatever. It doesn't matter. You'll feel better."

"I don't want to even go now. I didn't want to go before."

"It will be nice to walk around at night, in the air."

"But what are we going to do? We didn't even think of something to do."

"It doesn't matter, we will just do whatever. Something will happen and it will be okay."

"I feel better when I'm by myself. I get nervous when you're with me."

"What? Why?"

"I don't know, I just do."

I didn't say anything. She didn't say anything either and soon the bus arrived at our stop and we got off and laughed about some guy's small tight shorts as we waited for the light to turn green so we could walk across the street.

We walked through the park and then went towards center city. We walked around for a few hours, stopping to get ice cream and sit down for a while. At eleven, Carolina and I took the bus home which was normally a thirty minute trip that took almost two hours because now the Madonna concert was over and people were everywhere, not letting the buses pass for long stretches of time. We talked about getting off and walking home as if we knew it were the better thing to do, but we just stayed on the bus, not moving or talking or doing anything at all.

At home we drank water, brushed our teeth and went to bed. In bed Carolina felt pain in her neck. "It's that stupid bus's fault," she said.

"Do you want me to turn the fan off?" I said.

"No, it's okay," she said, “you need it.”

Matthew Savoca's “I don't know,” I said is forthcoming from Publishing Genius.

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