The Beginning of the End

Larry reaches over to hold Sue’s hand. She moves away so it seems like the dog is pulling the
leash. It doesn’t matter that the neighbors see Larry’s car and know he’s spending the night,
there’s something about the neighbors actually seeing her with Larry and looking like a couple
that troubles her. This is just the beginning of their romance.

“Did I tell you about that student going on and on about how his short story is like Game of Thrones during workshop last night?”

Larry nods his head negatively, but says nothing, and Sue knows he’s nodding to let her know he knows she pulled away.

“Another student said that show used too much gratuitous violence, something we’ve been discussing this week, and an argument broke out about how people like the show for way more reasons than that, and, you know, there’s always those that get biblical about everything. We were getting sidetracked from commenting on his story and I blurted out that the Game of Thrones was like Genesis, except, since the Bible is supposedly true, when the father gets drunk and rapes his daughter, it’s real there, and stated as a fact, not as gratuitous violence.”

“Seriously, Sue, you said that? How’d that go over?”

“Not so great. A couple of students gave me a quick thumbs up and others were probably wishing they had caught me saying that on their phones.”

“They didn’t, did they?”

“Who knows?”

“I bet that was quite the class.”

“Maybe it is my last class and I will get my termination papers in the mail today. Joys of being an adjunct.”

Larry wants to say more but a neighbor walks by with his dog and Sue leans over to pet his dog while the neighbor pets her dog. The neighbor usually has two dogs, but the older dog hasn’t been doing well, and Sue’s not sure she wants to ask about Beanie.

The neighbor sighs, then says, “I buried Beanie last night.”

Sue reaches over to hug her neighbor and Larry feels like he should say something. “Did you put him down?”

The neighbor starts crying and walks off while Sue quietly mumbles how sorry she is about Beanie. After the neighbor is out of ear shot, she looks at Larry and says, “What the fuck kind of question is that to ask someone about their dead dog? Is that what you say to people when a family member dies? Do you ask them if they pulled the plug?”

They walk the next block home in silence. When Larry gets in the car and backs out of the driveway, they both know this is their end.

Diane Payne

Diane’s most recent publications include: Barn House, Notre Dame Review, Obra/Artiface, Reservoir, Southern Fugitives, Spry Literary Review, Watershed Review, Superstition Review, Windmill Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Quarterly, Fourth River, Lunch Ticket, Split Lip Review,The Offing, Elke: A little Journal, Punctuate, Outpost 19, McNeese Review, The Meadow, Burnt Pine, Story South, and Five to One.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN