can you tell me why
Maggie never had children, but in this dream, she is standing on a white sand dune, and her daughter is running in the sand, running away from her. They are both barefoot and the sun is warm on her skin, the sky magically blue, painted with striated clouds. The child is running away from her but she is calm, even content, watching this life that came from her, reveling in the energy of her youth, sprinting away with the exuberance of one who has only just learned how to run. Maggie wakes in a sweat, wondering just what message she is sending herself.
can you just end it
For all of the intentional dissolution that characterizes his existence, Johnnie is not immune to the charms of stillness, to the appeal of solitude, an easy moment alone. Sunday morning, in a quiet café in Minneapolis, after a rough night of partying with some people he met on Craig’s List, whose lumpy stained couch he had surfed onto the night before, Johnnie is listening to an old man play soft jazz, an instrumental version of “A Wonderful World.” Johnnie feels himself breathing, the music is sending him somewhere. He’s all alone, drinking coffee, and he feels just fine with his place in the world.
can you not water it down
After he had sex with Helen, Johnnie felt momentarily victorious. He had a Leonardo DiCaprio King of the World moment and considered sending his older brother an email detailing the specific choreography of the act, but realized the ramifications that such an act of targeted betrayal might entail, the accentuated unpleasantness of future Thanksgivings, and so on, and decided to keep his counsel for the time instead.
can you make me well again
Charlie was in Rome for a week on business, sending Anna off with her sister for a spa weekend in Sedona. There were aromatherapy massages and a healing tour with a mystic shaman. It was a transcendent place and even if the chanting was hokey, Anna felt like it actually helped for a time, though when the plane landed back it in Philadelphia, it was like the spiders came crawling back in again.
can most of us live
Maggie was feeling more and more tired earlier and earlier at night, and she made a point of watching the sunset every night. During the day she spent time tying up loose ends and sending letters to old friends. She rarely mentioned the disease, preferring instead to recall shared times and memories, and in some cases to apologize for things she had done. She wrote up an old friend she had been forced to lay off when the company was making cutbacks, for instance, whom she had not seen since. She wrote a professor whose classes she remembered had inspired her, a cousin she had fallen out with. At a certain point she wondered whether she should restrict her correspondence to the living, whether it might be permissible to also write some letters to the dead.
can they get what we want
Kent talked Pete into meeting at a minor-league baseball game rather than at the bowling alley, for a change. The word is that the East Coast money is coming through, and they should be able to close on the distressed shopping center within the next month. They’re sending the paperwork Monday. Kent toasts their first foray into commercial property with a Coors Light. Pete somehow manages to snag a foul ball during the sixth inning. Kent should have paid better attention.
can we have a word before we part
The dream of the train again. The train pulling away, and the tracks ahead are broken. Charlie is waving his arms, sending signals to the driver, trying to stop it. The boy is on board. The train is pulling away. The train is moving. The train will surely go off the rails.
can we make it another year
Caught behind a horse-drawn Amish buggy on a two lane highway in the Pennsylvania countryside, Anna should pull forward and pass, but instead she watches the children in the back, watching her. The three children stare with the shock and wonderment of time-travelers. They make do with so little, the people in those communities, in denial of modern technology, plastic, and speed. Yet they seem to have enough. The simplicity appeals to Anna, in a way. What is that phrase about all unhappy families? The horse is clip-clopping very slowly along, yet she does not pass. Anna envies these country people, and she wonders what message she is sending Charlie, and if they’ll ever have a happy family.
can I go now
Charlie and Helen were arguing in the hotel room in Chicago, the same vertiginous argument that they would never quite manage to resolve. Charlie’s cell was ringing and he ignored it, sending it straight to voice-mail. He turned it off so that he and Helen could finish without heat. He would give her that. What could be more important? He didn’t find out about the accident until several hours later, when his secretary tracked down the hotel from his credit card charges.
can you help me with this
Charlie has always taken some comfort in the ability of the city to remind him of his own insignificance. He is only one of millions, all in it separately together. Any of us could be billionaires or die in traffic. You do the best you can to make your own luck and you deal with whatever the fates maybe sending your way. A story behind every one of those windows. Some will drop dead or catch fire in their sleep. Some will be blessed, some condemned. Some will rise, and others will fall from the sky. He gave up on trying sense of it all a long time ago.