Monday, November 18, 2013

They don't tell me anything anymore. Pt.2

   At around eleven o'clock, I begin my long and arduous journey. Its not that its too far away, it just feels as if I am somehow trudging uphill the whole way there. As if a part of me is holding me back. I do have a car of my own, downstairs in the parking garage, but today I decide to take the taxi, one less worry off of my back. That way the whole way there I don't have to do anything but relax, in which i wont be able to do when i am there(one would imagine). I can see the cabbie's name through the glass from the back seat that separates us, as all cabs are like that here. Everyone thinks everyone else is a criminal, I understand the need for it, but its a bit dystopian to say the least. His name is Donald, an older gentleman in at least his 50's, well maybe not that old I guess. He is dressed fairly nice for a taxi driver, as I have never met anyone in his profession dressed quite like him before.
"Excuse me, Donald is it. But do you think I can ask you something, as weird as it might sound".
"Sure". He calls out, as if yelling over a crowded street." What do you wanna know?".
"Its just.. its just I have never met a cab driver dressed as nicely as you are. I was just a bit curious".
"Yeah!". He tells me." I get that a lot. The honest truth is is that its kind of a hold over from my last job".
"What were you doing, if you don't mind me asking?".
"No, of course not". Says Donald." I used to be a accountant actually, for that bank up on Denver and Cordoba. Unfortunately they let me go a few weeks back, something about cutting people to save money. Probably for the fat cats up top".
"That seems to be happening a lot lately, sorry to hear..". I say, stopping myself from going to far, for reasons I am not too sure about.
"It worked out pretty good to be honest. I am not stuck in some stuffy office all day anymore. I get to get out and meet good people, practically make my own hours, its nice actually. And to answer your previous question. I had so may suits from working for the bank, and I do enjoy wearing them, just seemed like a waste to leave em empty in my closet collecting dust".
  "Sounds nice actually, I don't really have that privilege myself in my work".
"Oh yeah!". He says enthusiastically." An what do you do!?".
"I work up at the university, I teach biology. Not my first choice, but close enough I guess".
"And what may have been the first choice?".
"I wanted to work at the museum, ever since I was a kid it fascinated me, just everything about it. I volunteered for a while, but had to stop since I got the teaching gig".
"Yeah the natural history museum. I have been there, great place".
   Our conversation begins to wind down as we get closer and closer to my destination. The ride here actually felt like it took awhile, more than usual anyways. I guess the conversation we were having had that effect, kind of made time stop in a way. Donald is an interesting man, and a part of me wishes I could get to know more about him, but for now, I got to get to Jessica's house, as we have just pulled up.
"Thanks Donald". I tell him." It was a pleasure talking to you".
"Yeah!". He responds.". Maybe another time huh!".
"You never know, you never know". I now stand on the sidewalk looking at her house. Its two stories and looks like its straight from the seventies. With blue siding that is peeling off making it look as if its seen better days. The windows themselves look dirty, as if they never been clean, but I know from experience that they are just stained from age. The grass is nicely trimmed, with a cracked sidewalk walking up towards the front steps that cut the grass in two. The front windows on each side of the door is framed by flowers and vines that climb the walls trying to takeover the whole house.
Even though I am right out front, a part of me feels like its best if I just leave it and head back home. When we first broke up, I knew for sure I would take her back, but now, after so long, I am not 100% on if I feel the same. But I am getting ahead of myself, it may not be that at all, I would imagine that the odds of it happening being fairly far off. Probably found some of my stuff and wants to just get rid if it. I know I left some things with her, I just can't remember what they were. I always do this, I get some off chance idea in my head and run with it, and no matter how much I try to purge it from my memory its staked out a piece of land for good. The door is a faded grey, with three bold scratches near the bottom corner, maybe an animal of some kind, a cat perhaps, but it seems an awful specific number to be an animals. As I knock on the door, I can hear it ring throughout the house, eventually coming full circle and vibrating the door around my knuckle. An as the door quietly creaks open I find Jessica standing before me with a partial smile as if trying to hide most of it. She still oddly looks the exact same as when I first met her. With long semi wavy hair that looks as if its not been washed. She sports a pair of thick rimmed glasses that make her out a little more nerdy than she actually is. Her shirt is a Tad over sized, with red and blue plaid, buttoned up just enough to see what's underneath. Her jeans are faded with a huge hole in the knee, seeming as if they have seen better days. A lot of people always find this odd, but I am a big fan of the alt messy look, I am not sure why, but for some strange reason I have always found it incredibly sexy.
"Hey Paul!". She says in a calm voice." I am glad you made it".
"Yeah". I mutter." Thanks".
"I am quite surprised you still know the way here, its been a few years!".
"It sure has". I tell her, skipping over the first part if her sentence.
"Well please, come in, come in. Susan isn't here right now, she is at work actually. So its just you and me actually, I hope that is alright?".
"Of course, of course". I repeat." I am sure she has better things to do than look at me all day". I laugh." Seeing that we just talked the other day for sometime". I say trying to explain my previous comment.
"Yeah". She sighs." As she doesn't really know that you're here to be honest. I figured she didn't really need to know, her working and all".
"Oh!". I mumble." I just figured she did, seeing she invited me to dinner the other day".
"Yeah she told me about that, I thought it was a bit strange as well". She leads me over into the kitchen to take a seat at the table, which is a fair sized kitchen at that. It's more length wise than wide. With one side consisting of the all the necessary utensils, oven, counter, fridge and such. With the opposite end being a variation on the whole dining room, kitchen table type concept. To the left hand side, when the counters end lies a patio door with a good sized window beside it with a built in bench underneath. Looks about the same as I remember, but there is something different, that I cant quite yet put my finger on. "Did you paint the kitchen, I don't remember it being this color?".
"Yeah we did". She answers." It was just too Retro beforehand, we wanted to modernize it, at least a little". The color before used to be this burnt orange, looking as if it was pulled straight from the 70's Sears catalogue. Now it's a more modern off white, eggshell I believe they call it, something weird like that, it all looks white to me.
Going back to our conversation before this whole kitchen thing though, I do find it a bit odd that Susan doesn't know about me coming over. Why wouldn't she tell her, Susan obviously told her about our accidental meet up last week. It just makes me think that coming over wasn't a very good idea, like I previously thought. Jessica though, now pushing a coffee over the table towards me, sits across the table smiling silently as she warms her hands on the coffee mug.
"So!". She finally says, with a slight shake in her voice." I am guessing you are curious as to why you are here, especially after so long".
"Yeah, well.. it crossed my mind".
"I am just going to come out and say it than". She stops, and continues." If that's alright.  Its just that lately it seems, I have been kinda thinking about our relationship, I thought maybe, maybe its time we could, you know, try again.. or something". As she says this I can hear the nervous slumber in her voice, as it cracks every so often from the norm. We seem to talk to each other as if we are neighbors in a apartment building that barely talk, . As I have said plenty of times before, its been so long its almost as if we are strangers, not really sure as too what to say to one another. I am not sure even if we still have that connection we once had. Its not a choice I can really make on the spot, its as if two people are pulling each of my arms in opposite directions. But as I think all this over, I realize, that maybe that isn't the worst thing in the world, a kind of rebirth if you will, as if leaving all our past problems behind and starting fresh. A better version of ourselves even, as cheesy as that sounds. Even though I thought of this before I showed up, I must say, it takes me for a surprise, somewhere deep down I didn't truly believe this was the case, if that at all makes sense.
"I am not even sure what to say to that, to be honest. Its..". I mumble." It's just so surprising".
"I know, I know, and I am sorry. I really don't mean to put you on the spot like this".
  "I got to be honest about all this though, its just feels weird for us to get back together, if that does in fact happen, when I am not even sure what happened the first time around".
"That's a fair point Paul". She tells me." I guess I do owe you an explanation, at least as best as I can?". You know how when you're a kid, and you learn how to ride a bike, you never(to a certain extent) have to relearn that specific skill, you're pretty much good for life. The more I talk to Jessica, the more I feel like that, no matter how much I may feel as if I have to learn it all over again, once I get on that bike and begin pedaling once more, it just all comes flooding back, as if it never left, in which it probably didn't.
"I always thought..!". I begin." I always thought it had something to do with Susan, to be Frank!".
"Oh no no no!". She repeats." I always knew about her flirting problem, but was never worried about it. I knew she would never dare go any further. Actually". She ponders." I am not totally sure she realizes she is doing it".
"Than why did she try to contact me afterwards".
"Because she knew I wanted you back, even though I never admitted it".
"Oh!". I exclaim." It's a lot more simple than I thought it was".
"You always had a vivid imagination. To get back to topic though, you do know I am not expecting an answer right away. I realize it's been awhile since we were together, or even saw each other for that matter. But I hope, that while you are thinking about it, that maybe you'll stick around".
"Yeah (I pause) yeah of course. I don't mind staying awhile". I say this as if my mouth has concocted it's own answer. I am just kind of flying by night now, as I am not too sure as to what my next move is. On the one hand, I tell her I don't want to be with her anymore, and disappoint her now, or wait till later. On the other hand, I say yes to her little proposal, even though on am not 100% on it. I don't really want to stay to be honest, but maybe some time with her will give me clarity. In all seriousness though, I am not really sure what I want to do.
"There is a little place down the street, maybe we can walk over, get some lunch, if you want". Jessica has this way of ending her sentences at times with little faltering murmurs. As if she is trying not to be too forward, which is strange, because she normally is fairly forward with people, at least when she wants to be. If that makes any sense.
   Outside, the air is cold, and silent. The streets are slow to progress and only a few people adorn the sidewalks like lamp posts. The area has an almost small town atmosphere to it, with all the old fashioned storefronts, and the looming mountains watching over like broad shouldered military men looking down upon its soldiers.
But my mind right is not taking part of all this. Instead it opts out, thinking over the opposite opportunities of each of its decisions.
"Is everything alright Paul?". She exasperates, as if finally able to come up once more for a breath of fresh air.
"Yeah". I say." Everything is fine... what have you been up to lately anyways?". I ask, changing the subject.
"Oh you know, the usual". She tells me." I am still working as a secretary actually".
"Still in the same office building downtown?".
"Yeah". She says sullenly.
"Hows that going, they treating you well".
"Yeah, it pays good. And I like all the people there, I can't complain".
"You don't seem to thrilled about it, if you ask me".
"I don't know". She says." Its just not the most demanding job out there. But enough about me". She calls out, as if changing direction." What are you up to these days, ever get that coveted museum job?". She chuckles.
"No no, I never have".
"What are you doing these days than?".
"I am a professor at the university".
"The one downtown, U.S.C I think it's called".
"That is the one and only!". I tell her.
"How exactly did you pull that one off. Last time I seen you, you were volunteering at the museum working at KFC or something".
"I just got lucky, that's all". Now that we are actually together, and have talked for a little while, my nerves have started to slowly subside, like the tide rolling out, showing what was previously hidden underneath.
"Well Congrats, I think that is better than the museum job you wanted so badly. An plus, your basically doing the same as you would have anyways".
"Yeah, to be honest, I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I do. Teaching others the wonders of biology, I am pleasantly surprised".
  She has now changed from her previous outfit, gone are the ripped jeans and stoner t-shirt. In its place she wears a dark blue button up rain coat, that seems to grab on to her quite tightly, as if for warmth, while underneath is a white blouse with a slight plunging neckline, that sports little pink and purple flowers of some sorts. In which is all tied off with dark blue skinny jeans that seem as if they were just boughten this morning. Of all the time I have known her, I have hardly ever seen her dress as such, especially for such an occasion as going off for lunch. Normally it would just be some jeans and a pull over or something, not really something I would call an outfit, but this appears as if she put in some thought before hand, which I must admit, I quite like. As I look up into her eyes though, I find her smiling, a smirk really, as I suddenly realize I have been staring at her for a good thirty seconds or so. I guess at that moment she realized that her chances now are fairly good, as she suddenly puts her arm around me, slightly squeezing while pressing her head against my shoulders.
"So!". She says, ignoring both our previous actions." Have you been seeing anyone?".  At this point in our conversation we have already made it to the restaurant, and are just waiting to be seated. Its a nice little place, kind of if a diner and a fine eating establishment had an offspring. The walls are a dark green with white lines running vertical every foot or so, but encircling the place upon those very walls sits booths with, what can only be considered, a modern Retro vibe to them. The carpet is of the checkered variety, a dull white with darker blue, which is pretty nice actually, all things considered. As I take a look around though, its hard to say if everything goes together, its like that moment right before a crash when time seems to stop. We eventually take our seats just off center of the middle of the room, the waiter hands us our menu after we exchange pleasantries, and goes on his way, leaving Jessica and I alone once more.
"As I was saying, have you been seeing anyone since we broke up, anyone special?".
"No, not really. I have been on a date here and there, but nothing ever really panned out".
"Really!". She says surprised." I figured you would have done quite well. Especially with the job and all".
"Yeah well, I have never been all that good at putting myself out there". What I told her, about nothing coming to fruition, is not technically a lie, more of an omission. I met this girl through work, about a year or two ago. Nothing came of it though, at least dating wise. We slept together a few times, in which now, looking back, am not too sure exactly how that came about. She was beautiful though, unconventionally so. Most people didn't, and would not agree with me. I am not quite sure why, but she just wasn't one those woman that guys normally go for. I remember when we met, and our eyes first locked. She had this really short cropped black hair, with these cute little cheeks, looking almost like a squirrel would when he collects nuts for the winter. She was wearing a white button up shirt with a dark brown cardigan, and a below the knee dress that almost looked as if it was made out of corduroy, I think it was cotton though. Her dress was a muted dark grey, and seemed as if it used to be a Tweed jacket in a previous life. She was always covered up, never showing any skin. Even her calves, which the dress couldn't reach, were covered in knee high socks, or pantyhose, I am not too sure which. She looked as if she was some stuffy librarian ready to knock your hand with a ruler for any wrong doing. But there was something about her that got me right away, maybe it was the way her dress huddled so closely to her hips, or the way her shirt flowed over her chest, subtly showing there shape. Or the way she'd smile, and bow her head as if trying to hide that fact. She wasn't extremely thin either, in which i quite like, she was quite chubby to be honest, perfectly so, in my opinion. Maybe that was why she dressed the way she did, self conscious I guess. We started to see each other a few weeks after we first met, at first we just enjoyed each others company, but soon it evolved into something different.
  I took her dancing once, up in this little club downtown. The whole night we were wrapped in each others arms swaying to the music, which was probably a big push for what eventually happened. That night when I walked her home she asked me up to her apartment, and that was that. Quite honestly though, I tried to make our situation more permanent, from what i remember, but she just got off a long relationship, and didn't want any of that, which obviously, still worked out fairly well. We saw each other a couple times after that, for lunch or dinner or something, but soon we just ended up somehow skipping that part and went right to the 'best part', which is how she put it.
"How about yourself?". I finally say." How about that guy Susan told me about, what was he, a lawyer or something?. What ever happened with him?".
"He was nice and all, he never did become a lawyer, not yet anyhow. He was just.. just kind of boring, actually".
"That's too bad, he sounded nice enough, from what Susan told me".
"I guess!". She shrugs, while the waiter walks over, to take our order.
   After we finished eating, we begin our journey back home. When I first came over this morning, and even the days before, I was very weary about us getting back together. My mind was very much back and forth on the whole situation. But after spending the afternoon with her, I am strangely positive on the whole issue. Its like all the good times we had has come flooding back to me, and all the bad has kind of wavered into the background. Not that, now that I think about it, there was very many bad times, its just over long periods the memory has a way of remembering things differently than how they actually happened.
  "See". She says." That wasn't so bad was it. The food was pretty good!, don't you think".
"Yeah actually, quite surprisingly so. The decorum on the other hand, was a bit strange".
"I think they are going for a Hipster type style".
"Is that even a real thing". I ask.
"It is now, apparently". For most of the walk back, we jest in idle chat, going back and forth on such nonsense issues, as if to waste time till we get back home.
"So, when is Susan getting back?". I ask her, as we approach her house about a block away.
"Why, do you miss her already?". She says jokingly.
"No no, I am just not sure if I am ready for such awkwardness, that's all".
"It will be fine Paul". She tells me, in an attempt at comfort.
"She did, by the way, invite you over for dinner you know". When we finally make it back to her house, we end up sitting on her couch while the TV plays inconspicuously in the background. As I don't believe either of us are really listening all that much, seeing that at this point in time (in these certain situations) something usually happens. I will be honest, for once, that as we sit here, side by side, I can feel that old sexual chemistry come back. I am not sure if its just her presence, or the fact that it's been sometime since I have been in such a position. We both stay silent for a while, pretending to watch the screen as it flashes distortions of light throughout the dimly lit living room. Soon enough I look over to her, to find her looking back at me, as she says.
"Is everything alright, are you comfortable".
"I am". I say". I am". An as I say this I find my hand reach over to the small of her back. I can feel the cotton cloth of her shirt coupled with the coldness of her skin against my palm.
"You're freezing!". I tell her, not expecting it.
"Yeah, a little". She says back." But you hand is warm". She continues in a soft broken voice. An as our eyes meet, I can feel our lips embrace, as I gently push her hair from her eyes. But as my other hand slowly makes its way gently up her back, I hear the door crash open as if in an explosion, while simultaneously Jessica jumps back in a knee jerk reaction.
"Susan!". Jessica calls out. "You're home early". Susan stops there, looks us over, and in a plain calm voice, as if to contradict what she is about to say, says." Wow, I wasn't expecting this".
"We were just watching a little television, that's all".
"Not from my perspective". She says." So Paul, I guess you decided to take up my offer, in a manner of speaking". She tells me, as I look down upon my feet in slight embarrassment." There is no need to be embarrassed Paul, but maybe next time, the bedroom might offer up a bit more privacy". She laughs, before disappearing upstairs.
"I am sorry about that". Jessica says to me." I guess we got a little carried away".
"Its okay, you didn't know Susan would be home so early, its fine".
"But maybe now that we are all here, you might, you know, stay for dinner". The weird thing is about all this, is now that I kissed her, It feels.. right, almost oddly so. Like two young lovers who have been watching each other from afar, too finally after so long  get there chance to be with one another. I guess sometimes you don't really know what you want till you reach out and touch it, if that, in fact, makes any sense.
"Yeah, of course, I would love that".
"Great!". She says." I will let Susan know". As Jessica wanders upstairs, I am left alone with my thoughts, in the dimly lit living room of her house. In all our years apart, I have never truly believed I would be back here once more. Of course for about the first year afterwards I thought differently, but soon that feeling disappeared. I can hear the muffled voices of them upstairs as they sound like a shangri-las record in slow motion. After about five or ten minutes of them up there, and me down here trying to decode there mumbled tones, they finally come down side by side with smirks upon there brows.
"What's going on". I ask, confused.
"Its nothing Paul". They say, almost in unison." Nothing you got to worry about". Jessica says.
"Okay you two". Susan chimes in." I am going to start dinner. You two can just... enjoy each other I guess. Just not like when I walked in okay". She chuckles, as she walks into the kitchen. As we sit on the couch, next to each other, we can hear the banging of pots and cupboards behind us, with a final gruntled sigh that ends it all off. After a slight bout of silence, in walks Susan, as she declares.
"I don't have all the stuff to make what I want, so I have to hit up the grocery store. Do you two wanna join me, or hang out here". She smirks, knowing full well what answer Jessica will give.
"We will be fine". Replies Jessica.
   After Susan leaves we still sit beside each other on the couch, like two children, not knowing what to do next.
"You know!". I say, breaking the silence." Your sister doesn't have to cook for us".
"Oh don't worry about that". She tells me." Its her turn to cook anyways".
"What do you mean? You two take turns?".
"Yeah, we kind of had to, we kept on fighting on who and what to make each night. So now we take turns, and once a week on each of our days we are able to go out to eat if we so choose. Just makes things easier that way, don't you think?".
"Hmmm! Yeah, I guess it would. An I would imagine whoever is doing the cooking gets to choose what to make, that's pretty smart actually".
"Thanks". She replies." I would like to take credit for it, but it was Susan's idea". As we both sit there, I can only imagine that the two of us would want to continue off from where we started, before Susan walked in. But it would seem as if we have some silent mutual agreement that maybe this is not the most opportune time to do so. I guess the scare we both had from her walking in has dampened the mood slightly, at least that is what I do hope. It's as if we have a time limit of sorts until Susan gets back, not that it matters, I imagine, but not something you really wanna rush, especially after so long. So we just end up sitting here, watching the television blare incoherently in front of us.
  We eventually find ourselves outside on the back patio, with our jackets on. The weather has let up a bit and the clouds are beginning to part. Its nice out here, her yard isn't all that big, but its quite beautiful nonetheless. Most of the perimeter is covered in tall trees and various species of bushes and such, gives it more of a private feeling, as if no one can see you from the other side of the fence. We sit out here for a good while, as I can feel the cold breeze upon my neck, making my hair stand slightly on end. In the foreground, the trees wave back and forth ever so subtly, as if dancing to the tune of the wind.
"Hey you two, just letting you know I am back, I am going to begin dinner in a bit, its still early... so.!". Susan stops almost mid sentence, as if we already know what she will say.
"Yeah no problem". Jessica replies." You don't want any help do you".
"No, its okay. It's my turn to cook, I don't mind". Throughout the rest of the night till dinner, we end up catching up on things, little details here and there mostly. Jessica tells me about how she met her last boyfriend, and how he always wanted her to move away with him, but she always refused. An I tell her how I happened upon my job as a teacher at the university, which was by chance actually.
  As soon as dinner is served we all gather around the kitchen table situated by the window with the bench. Susan has cooked this tuna noodle casserole that Jessica used to make me all the time. It was always one of my favorite dishes, still is. Maybe that was what they were mumbling about upstairs earlier in the day.
"So how is it Paul". Asks Susan." Still your favorite dish?".
"Yeah, I am surprised you both even remembered".
"It was Jessica that remembered actually, I totally forgot, obviously I guess". Says Susan. As we sit there in idle chit chat, I can see Jessica look over every so often with a smile upon her face, as Susan looks us both over like some omnipotent Creator. I imagine she takes full credit for this whole thing, in which, I would have to say, is kind of her doing, to a certain degree anyways.
"So you two". Susan calls out." What are your plans for the rest of the day, anything exciting?".
"Uhh! No, not really. Just hang around here for the night". Jessica replies, looks over at me and continues." Maybe a movie?".
"That sounds good to me". I reply, after quickly choking down a mouthful.
"Well you don't have to worry about me, as I will be upstairs all night finishing off somethings for tomorrow". She pauses, before saying." So the place is all yours!". After dinner me and Jessica clean the dishes while Susan heads up to do her work. I end up scrubbing while she dries, as our hands intermittently touch when I pass each dish over, which brings a sly smile to each one of us. After that is done, we end up on the couch watching some romantic comedy with Sandra bullock, which I think is basically all of them. As the movie goes on though, I can feel our bodies become ever closer, eventually meeting in the middle of the couch.
  I can feel my nerves now embody my every move, as my mind goes back an forth on what I should do next. But I soon feel her head up against me, resting upon my shoulder. An as we look at each other we smile slightly, as I graze my hand against her thigh. It's at that moment that our eyes once again meet, and our lips once again lock. I can now feel the palm of her hand as it makes its way up just beneath my shirt. An as I gently lay her unto the couch like a sleeping snow white, she looks me in the eyes and asks.
"Do you wanna take this to the bedroom?".
" Yeah, I would like that". I answer, as if in a drunken stupor. She than grabs my hand, and pulls me toward her as she heads for her room. I can still hear the television on in the background, and Sandra's character talking about how much she hates the man she will eventually fall for near the end of the movie. Entering Jessica's room, she sits me on the side of the bed that faces the door. While she seductively closes it behind her whilst watching me. I can feel my palms begin to sweat, as she slowly takes of her blouse, revealing her soft supple skin underneath. While she does this she struts towards me eventually dropping the blouse on the floor, than climbs on top of me, while still sitting up. I can't hear anything anymore, just the slight groans that seem to drone on into muffled screams, its like some drugged fueled dream, as I am always expecting to wake up in a startled grunt. Afterwards, as I look up into the ceiling, I can feel her sleeping beside me, while she wraps herself up like a cocoon with most of the blankets.
The next morning when I finally awake, I can feel the bed empty beside me. She must've gotten up already, as I didn't get to sleep as quickly as she did. I spent a good deal of time thinking about the previous day, and what a change it was from beginning to end, its strange how the mind works, and how different ones opinion can be from one moment to the next.
As i get into the kitchen though, I find the two of them toiling away making breakfast. Susan soon sees me standing there, and says in her usual manner." So Paul? How was your night?". She pauses." It sounded like you were having fun!". She smiles, while I look off unto the patio, in embarrassment.
"Yeah". I mumble, as I try to avoid the question.
"Well we made breakfast". Jessica suddenly announces.
"So why don't you sit down, and enjoy yourself".
"Thanks, thanks a lot". I say, as we all sit around the table, in silence.

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