A Listening Thing
A Novel by William Michaelian

Chapter 23

When I woke up, Mary was gone. The room was light. I heard the shower running. Mary’s nightshirt was on the bed. Her suitcase was open on the floor. My clothes were draped on the chair by the window. I was amazed, happy, rested, and hungry.

The shower went off. A few minutes later, Mary opened the door. Still rubbing her hair with a towel, she looked at me and smiled. She had on fairly new jeans and a soft, comfortable-looking blouse. She closed the door. “Look who’s up,” she said.

I gave her a little wave. “You look familiar,” I said.

Mary threw her towel at me. “Thanks a lot,” she said.

I sat up and threw the towel back.

“Well?” she said. “Aren’t you going to get up?”

“Not right away,” I said.

Mary started drying her hair again. “It’s nine-thirty,” she said. “Your mother’s dying to make you breakfast.”

“Me? What about you?”

“We already ate.”

“You did? How long have you been up, anyway?”

“Awhile.” Mary folded her towel and set it on top of the chest of drawers. She came back to the bed, and in one quick motion, pulled back the sheet. “No wonder you can’t get up,” she said. “My God.”

“It’s not my fault,” I said.

“No, of course not,” she said.

Mary was smiling. She wouldn’t let go of the sheet. “Uh-uh,” she said. “This is too much fun.”

“Come on,” I said. “Be fair.”

“What? Why should I?”

“What if my mother is listening?”

“She isn’t. She’s making pancake batter.”

“I don’t hear anything.”


“There. Now I hear something.”


“Okay, eggbeater. Let me get dressed.”

Mary let go of the sheet. I pulled it up to my waist. She sat on the bed. With the tip of her finger, she made a squiggly design on my chest. Touching my ear with her lips, she whispered, “I have something to tell you.”

“What is it?” I said.

“If we don’t stop this right now, something’s going to happen.”

“It’s too late,” I said. “It already is.”

Mary was still warm from the shower. Her skin was fresh. There was moisture in her ears. She pulled the sheet away.

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Also by William Michaelian: Winter Poems and Another Song I Know

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