“I have so much I need to get done today.” Marie squeezed herself into a small corner of the sofa that was closest to the door, as if the proximity to an exit and the sheer discomfort of her position would magically propel her. She cradled the cup of untouched coffee between her two hands and blew across the steaming surface.
Marie alternated between two mood states that Madeline thought of as more or less “off” and “on.” In the “off” times, Marie walked with her eyes cast on the floor. She moved with such stealth that it was nearly impossible to know where she may be in the house, or if she was even there at all. She shrugged in response to any communication directed at her. In other words, she gave the ardent impression of wishing to be invisible, or perhaps to disappear entirely. During the “on” times, she could be shockingly talkative. The shifts came as a bit of a jolt to Madeline, when the same young woman who had slunk around in the deep shadows for a time suddenly plopped down on the sofa and became downright chatty, mustering an astonishing string of words, sentences, paragraphs, ideas that were not only exceptionally articulate, but were also delivered so blindingly goddamn fast that Madeline had to concentrate especially hard on the content lest she get carried away by the breathtaking delivery itself.
She had an assortment of expression that she peppered frequently through any and every subject she happened to be addressing, a trait Madeline found so utterly charming she waited for each new occurrence and was brought very nearly to tears by them. These included:
At all whatsoever
I mean, I feel like
I mean, are you fucking kidding me?
and Madeline’s personal favorite:
“Did you hear my big fight with John last night?” Marie asked.
“What!? No!” Madeline responded.
“Nonsense. I can’t believe you didn’t hear it. I was seriously screaming at him. Because
he was being a complete ninnyhammer, I mean, I feel like he started it because he was actually screaming into the phone at me, I don’t even remember a time when he’s yelled at me like that, ever, before, when he was that mad and yelling so loud I actually had to hold the receiver away from my ear a couple of times, I mean, are you fucking kidding me? Seriously, Madeline, it’s a little hard to believe you when you say that you didn’t hear any of this.”
“I seriously didn’t. Are you OK? Is everything OK?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. We talked again this morning. For a long time. That’s why I’m running so late and I can’t do this, I can’t do this right now. I can’t sit down on this spot on this couch and next thing I know some sort of thing has taken possession of me, hours of our lives have passed, and I realize that once again I have fallen into the conversational vortex that exists in this room! I do not have time for this today at all whatsoever.” She paused. She shifted just slightly from her previous position of being bashed against the arm of the sofa.
“Possibly, it’s already too late,” Madeline said.
“Nonsense,” said Marie.
Paintings by Milton Avery