Elaine's Story

Long Story Short

“Thank you, Emma,” Mirsky said to his wife, Elaine.

“Don’t mention it, dearest. Do you really think I’m getting to be like my mother?”

“Not in the unimportant things like cooking or catering to your husband,” Mirsky said, “but if sentence finishing were a horse race you two might end in a ... a ...photo . . .”

Mirsky paused and squeezed his eyes shut, his brow furrowed. He opened his brown eyes wide, turned away from Elaine and punched his thigh.

“Finish,” Elaine said softly.

“Photo finish,” Mirsky said quickly, turning to her. “See what I mean?”

“Were you just teasing me?” Elaine asked.

“Now what do you think?”

“After thirty years together I should know when you’re teasing me and when you’re not.”

“Well, you don’t.”

They stood facing each other, the bookshelves in the den wrapped around them like a shawl. Mirsky walked over to the window, leaned on top of the sash and peered out.

Elaine walked over and stood next to him. “Remember that time you called me Emma at my mother’s house just as she walked into the room?”

“No.”

Elaine looked up at Mirsky who hadn’t turned from the window. “I’m not sure what either of us said or did, but you laughed and said, “Thank you Emma. I appreciate your concern.”

“My mother was in the room and said, “Hey. You called my daughter Emma. People have always told us we look alike, and years ago, when I was young we could have passed for sisters, but you should know better. You’re her husband.”

“We didn’t have the heart to tell her what was really going on, so you said, “Oh, you still look like sisters.” My mother walked out of the room smiling and we ran outside laughing.”

“Sounds like a funny story,” Mirsky said. “When did that happen?”

Elaine smiled and hugged Mirsky’s from behind.

“When did that happen?” Mirsky asked.

“What?” Elaine asked.

“That story you just told me.”

“Oh, that. A while back.”

“How long of a while?”

“Sometime last year when we visited my folks,” Elaine said.

Mirsky shook free of Elaine and sat down. He tilted his head back and looked up at the ceiling. Elaine walked around the room straightening out books.

Mirsky sat up. “My forgetting—it’s not funny or cute anymore, Elaine.”

She walked over and sat on the arm of his chair. “It never was,” she said, and let herself fall into his lap.

Long Story Short

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