The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma

by Stephen Page

            Saturday, I wake at 5 a.m., prepare my coffee, sip a cup, open all the window blinds in the house, then prepare breakfast for Teresa and me. I eat, but Teresa does not wake until 11 a.m. She is depressed and sleeps sometimes 11 or 12 hours a night. Well, that gives me time to write, read a bit, think about my book project and how to develop it to an end.  I turn on the news and Tyrant Reginald says, “I am the least racist person I know!” Reminds me of a friend who once told me, “I am the humblest person I know.”

            After noon, we drive into town and lunch at La Chaise, at a table in the open garden, the flowers intoxicating our olfactories, the birds choralling Brahms, Wagner, Mozart, some tunes written by others but sung by the Tabernacle Choir, and an occasional background riff from Mick Taylor. 

            The lunch of fish soup and brazed chicken covered in broccoli is exquisite, but the bald headed, sun blotched waiter keeps standing six feet away with his mask on and rattling on the whole time we ate, gossiping about this person and that person. My wife gossips with him, like she always does.  Why do people want to talk so much? Don’t they want to look up at the pines swaying under the blue sky and contemplate existence? Or, at least, don’t they want to leave me and my wife alone to talk with ourselves? I mean, that is why we came here alone, not just because of the virus, but because we are together? Right? I mean, a couple together should be able to take a bite or two of food, sip a little wine, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes, and speak silently if not out loud about their lives and how lucky they are to be together here in this paradise. Jeez!

            The sun is stronger than usual, and the asinine waiter’s droning is making me ill, so Teresa drives me home, drops me off, then goes errand shopping alone. I nap an hour or so, then when I hear her return, I rise to help her unload the car of groceries. I turn on the T.V. for our regular virus-time recreation, T.V. I find a documentary titled, “The Social Dilemma.” Teresa does not care for it. She mumbles something ´bout, “We live in a social dilemma,” and goes to bed.

read the story on Flash Fiction North here:

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