After they have dinner the dinner becomes a memory. He will primarily remember the parlance of their mastication: jaw, jaw, slurp. She will remember that he did not notice her new shirt.

The idiom of trees keeps them awake all night: krik, krak. And so they talk. They have not agreed on the possibility of a baby yet and so the baby is just an idea. A good idea, so she says. A poor one, says he. The baby is an idea and so it is both and neither male and/nor female. The idea of the baby is a knob of appetite in her chest. The idea of the baby is something that makes his mouth tired.

The expressway at 8 AM has a grinding parlance. Crawl, scrape, weave, shudder. He sees his morning at the office, though he is nowhere near starting it yet. He sees the lip of his coffee mug caked with dried creamer scum. He sees Kevin from marketing's new tie. He smells something microwaved too long in the break room. And suspended right in the middle of his day, like a warm pocket of light, he sees his two-hour lunch appointment with the woman who is not his wife and to whom he is attracted mostly because of her availability. Somewhere along the way availability and proximity have replaced beauty and desire as his primary concerns.

It is both a discovery and surprise -- this tattoo on the hip of the woman who is not his wife. It is small and blurry and obviously homemade. Because it is a surprise, this discovery provokes him, and so their subsequent lovemaking in the hotel room in the shadow of the interstate has an unusually frothy, desperate parlance: bite, rasp, plunge, curl, surrender.

It is dinner again, not yet a memory but a thing happening now, and they are lying to each other about their respective days. He fucked the woman that supplies his office with packing tape, but instead describes a noontime emergency that deprived him of lunch. She watched the Spanish language station and ate an entire pepperoni pizza, but instead bemoans a sweaty forty-five-minute jaunt on the Exercycle. The idiom of dinner talk is lies and obfuscations imbedded in half-truths. Both of them politely listen to the other and ask a few polite, half-interested questions; each believes the other, somehow incapable of fathoming that the fleshy, plain-faced person on the other end of the table could possibly have secrets.

In light of his dalliance he is feeling charitable, and so after watching their nightly programs -- he in the den, she in the living room -- they entangle themselves on the bed, slipping down their pajama bottoms just enough to allow access to the necessaries. The awkward parlance of marital sex: wiggle, bump, apologize, clasp, sigh.

The baby is a journey now, a distance to cover. In twenty-four hours the baby will stop being a matter of distance plus time and will become a grain of hope and dread. She does not know this yet. He does not know it either, but as he suffers a dream he won't remember, his body apes the idiom of babies: kick, stir, gurgle, clutch, exhale.

About the author:

Jeb Gleason-Allured recently witnessed the immolation of a burrito stand near his home in Logan Square (Chicago). He publicly ponders war and rock n' roll and edits stories at