I was browsing through some old notebooks this week and found this short-short story that I’d written back in 2005. It seems like maybe it needs some tweaking and it could stand to be a little longer, but I like the idea. This concept came from a conversation I had with my roommate Laura in which she basically told me the same thing that Jackson tells the main character. And I felt much the same way about it. Enjoy!
Norman and I have loved each other since the day we met. He believes that he fell into my life entirely by chance, but I know it was a gift of fate. I had just moved into a new house in a new neighborhood and, although the apartment was everything I had hoped for, it was a lonely place in the summer. My new neighbors, Russell and Lillian, were an older couple who had three cats and no children. Russell liked to wear corduroy trousers and I could always hear him coming down the hall, swish-swish, swish-swish. The dim, overhead lights in the corridor shone off of his bald, shiny head as he held the door open for Lillian. Lillian in her voluminous, brightly-colored house dress and plastic shoes clumping into my foyer with a huge grin on her wrinkly face.
“Emma, this is Norman.”
I felt my breath catch in my throat at the sight of him and my cheeks turned the same delicate shade as my pale sweater. I smiled, he stayed and here we are; happy and content. He is simple, so much less complicated than I. His big, gentle eyes melt my heart and we spend the evenings together, side by side; I read or write poetry and he contemplates the existence of a bigger reality. I have never felt so fulfilled.
Today though, Jackson brought to light certain behavior patterns in the life of my love that have me worried. Jackson lives in an apartment complex on the other side of town. I met him at work and we took turns making dinner once a week. Tonight was my night and we were chopping peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes for the salad. I refused to believe that Norman cares as little for me as Jackson tells me he does. I tried to convince both Jackson and myself that Norman and I had something special, something that brought us together and would keep us together.
“He gets excited when I come home and I know he is happy to see me,” I informed Jackson while he diced the tomatoes. “I can tell by the look on his face that he loves me.” I tossed a handful of lettuce into the wooden bowl on the counter defiantly.
Jackson looked at me out of the corner of his eye, “Emma, goldfish have, like, a three-second memory. Not only is he not happy to see you, he doesn’t even remember who you are. Maybe you should get a dog.”