Several Conversations I Did Not Have Today

By Alan Trotter. A short story. You can also read it here.

Today I quit my job. I knocked politely on my boss’s door, eased my head into the room with an apologetic smile and asked if she could spare a minute of her time.

She asked me to take a seat, got my name wrong.

Things that were not said in the ensuing conversation included: I can’t see why you even bothered to tell us and Until just now I wasn’t entirely sure you worked here. As well as: This place makes me feel invisible.

I did not say: You never remember my name.

When I got home I explained to my flatmate that I wouldn’t be staying with him anymore. He was working on a large pile of papers he had neatly arranged around him on our dining table, stabbing aggressively at a calculator, making heavy, important marks on a pad of yellow paper and frowning. I said I was sorry to bother him, but it would only take a second.

He didn’t say: This whole thing surprises me not at all – I’ve always thought you a quitter. I at no point said: It honestly surprises me that you have a single friend in the whole world.

Later, I broke up with my girlfriend. I went round her place. She was cooking her dinner, but I told her that I had to speak to her, that it wouldn’t take long. We moved through to her room, away from her flatmate, whose smell reminds me of airport toilets. We sat beside each other on the side of her bed. She held my hands in hers and rubbed her thumb again and again along the inside of my right wrist, almost frantically, without noticing that she was doing it.

Things that were not said included: I think I only find you attractive because you’re willing to have sex with me and Why have you never noticed how much I dislike having you touch me like that? She didn’t say: I need someone – I don’t think it matters whether it’s you. I didn’t say: I once fucked your flatmate in a toilet in an airport – I think you were at the Bureau de Change.

At the hospital I spoke to my dad. I told him not to worry, that I wouldn’t stay long.

Things that were not said included: Despite everything it makes me terribly sad to see you like this. He didn’t say: I’m sorry for being the type of father I was. Me: They say I should probably say goodbye.

Other things that were not said included: