She was chattering. He offered an occasional monosyllabic grunt response. She said, “You don’t seem to be enjoying this conversation much.”
He said, “I’m trying to think.”
She said, “What’s that supposed to mean? Is that some kind of code for “shut up”? If you want me to shut up you can just say so, you know. I won’t take offense. I know how to be quiet. I can shut up. I don’t have to talk all the time. I can be as quiet as a mouse. Is that what you want? Is it?”
He leaned forward, covered his face with his hands, and shook his head.
“I can be so quiet you’d never even know I’m here and all you have to do is say so. Really. You just say the word and I’ll shut up. No problem. Really, I won’t mind at all.”
He began to rock.
She patted him on the shoulder. “You seem upset. Is it because you’re trying to think? If you need me to be quiet I would be happy to do that for you. All you have to do is say so, honey. Do you want to say so? Do you? You can tell me. Just tell me and I’ll shut right up.”
He made a funny choking noise, which she interpreted as laughter. She kissed him on the cheek, took his dirty dishes, and started to leave the room. She said, “You adore me and you know it.”
He said, “Yes.”
She said, “But somedays you’re tempted to do it with a real door.”
He said, “Well ….”
She turned and gave him that look. “Well — ?”
Looking at her innocently, He offered his customary monosyllabic grunt response.