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And You’re Standing in the Silence, Standing in the Darkness, Singing About Wishing

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The band leaves
and takes with it
a piece of Dina’s heart

(she didn’t know there was any left to take).

The band leaves
and takes with it
a piece of Papi’s joy

(he feels empty inside).

It was addicting
that feeling of
something.

Now it is gone.

During the day, they pretend like everything is normal and boring like it was.

Dina is her normal self,
bitingly sarcastic
yet warm
and lively.
Papi is as he was:
playing off of Dina,
joking without malice
and just a little clumsy.

During the day,
they pretend
but

Every night for a whole week
the two climb up to Dina’s apartment after work.

They sit
and drink cheap wine
and try to sort through the numbness.
That’s all they can feel.

Numb.
Maybe sadness.

(definitely sadness in Papi’s case)
(Dina isn’t sure)

They take up residence on Dina’s old, old couch— Dina on the left side, feet tucked up under her, and Papi on the right, wrapped in her childhood quilt.

The first night they don’t talk at all.
Dina walks up and Papi follows her.

She says nothing.
She knows.
She knows that he needs her and that maybe she needs him.

(Really,
they were the only two affected in this way.
Itzik and Arvum, too,
she supposes,
and maybe Tzachi

(though she has a hunch that he couldn’t care less because his girlfriend called)

but she knows that
Itzik and Iris have thrown themselves into repairing their marriage and
Arvum is facilitating that.

Dina
has nothing to throw herself into
and Papi
no longer has Julia to occupy his thoughts)

Anyway
they need each other.

They sit
and think
and sip their wine
in silence.

Papi thinks that this is ridiculous.
It was such a small event:
a band got lost
and stayed with them
for the night.

Why does he feel like the absence of another young man’s soft laugh is burning a hole in his heart?

The second night they get takeout and speak all of four words to each other.

falafel
she asks.

sure
he shrugs.

thank you
he says later.

sure
she murmurs.

The third night they watch an old Omar Sharif movie
Papi flips through her five channels and finds it

the only thing that wasn’t news
he says
looking at the television.

her shoulders tense.
he doesn’t see.

fine
she says.

the muted noise of the television is better than silence.

(halfway through Dina’s eyes begin to mist up
(because it’s late and she’s tired, she tells herself)
(she’s lying)
Papi notices and pretends he doesn’t)

The fourth night they finally run out of wine.
Dina has to go get some more.

get the white
he says.

that is a garbage wine
she says

(she gets the white).

The fifth night Dina hums My Funny Valentine absentmindedly

(she had lied, she did enjoy Chet Baker very much).

Papi cries

(it hurts and he misses Haled so much and fuck why did they even come here).

Dina wordlessly gets up and comes back with a box of tissues and a plastic grocery bag that she sets in front of him.
She does not protest when he moves and rests his head on her shoulder

(never mind the fact that he’s getting her shoulder all wet and probably snotting on her quilt)

He needs her
so she will be there
as sobs rack his body and he draws in uneven breaths.

Eventually Dina realizes that he has cried himself to sleep.
She can’t bring herself to wake him.
She falls asleep there, and doesn’t wake up when Papi rises and slips out at two a.m.

He drapes the quilt over her before he leaves.

The sixth night they are silent until Papi scoots closer and lays his head in her lap. Her fingers automatically comb through his hair, they way they did when he was a small boy and she was still young and stupid and engaged.

(she is none of those things now
except stupid
for letting herself
feel something besides apathy
again)

why, dina
he whispers.
why did they have to come

i don’t know
dina says.

they got lost
and they needed a place to stay
and since we’re nice people
we gave them one

but why does it hurt
he asks.

i want to be happy again
i want to see him

She thinks for a while.

because
she answers.

what could have been is not what is
they are not coming back
and we will never meet again
and the thought is painful

Dina’s own words hit her harder than she’d care to admit.
They’re ridiculous words
overdramatic and sounding like bad poetry
but they’re the best ones she can find.
And they hit her like the music once did

(the music of a man whom she wants desperately to come back).

The seventh night they pretend everything is normal because it’s time they got on with their lives.
They make normal conversation and
do not
discuss the band.

Dina does not talk
does not talk about how she can hardly think of Tewfiq without sending herself into sobs.

(She mostly doesn’t tell him because she wants to be strong for the closest thing she ever had to a child)
(and because she can barely admit to herself that she cries over someone who was only in her life for thirteen hours)

Papi does not say
does not say how he feels the life has been drained from his body and has not returned since Haled smiled at him for the last time.

(he’s been sitting on his balcony after he gets home from Dina’s apartment so Zelger and Anna can’t hear him sniffle)
(he no longer hears the sea when he sees Julia, though he thinks he might if Haled ever came back, which Papi knows he won’t)

On the eighth night, Dina drinks alone.
Papi goes home and straight to bed and doesn’t get up until morning.

They know it’s time
to at least pretend that they are fine.

Dina is still missing a piece of her heart.
Papi is still without joy.
But they can do nothing about it.
They hurt.
But life must continue
so
they go on.