Nov/Dec 2019 • Vol. XLI No. 6 Fiction |

Passing Through a Great Sorrow

(To be read to the soundtrack of Erik Satie) The first time the telephone rang, he didn’t move. He sat there on the old, yellow cushion, covered with faded shepherdesses holding flower wreaths. The colorful, flickering lights from the muted TV made the room quiver, pale under the morbid and luxurious burgundy glow of some old movie. When the phone rang again, he was trying to remember if the name of the slow, scratchy melody coming from the other room was “Pleasant Despair” or “For a Pleasant Despair.” Either way, he thought: despair. And: pleasant. The light from the streetlamp filtered in through the lace of the curtains, bluish, mixing with the washed-out color of the film. Before the phone rang a third time, he decided to get up — to check the name of the piece, he told himself, then headed to the other room, through the narrow hallway where his pants brushed against the striped leaf of a plant, as they always did. I need to find a new place for it, he thought,

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