Thursday 27 October 2022

WHEN DO I GET TO LAUGH by Michael Gigandet, cheap beer

 We must look like penguins waddling to the edge of the continental ice. Bundled up in our dark coats and scarves against the wind, our arms out for balance, we shuffle quarter steps over our own ice. At another time I would have said something clever and tried to get her to laugh, but instead I’m wondering if I locked the car although we have nothing worth stealing.

I reach for her arm but stop before she sees me do that. ‘I got it,’ she said when I tried before. I listen to her breathing and glance at the puffs of fog in the cold.


Inside the courthouse, the authorities conclude that it’s over. Thirty minutes is all it takes. She said “Thank you” to everybody we met.


Now singular in a plural setting, we offer something droll for everyone here:

-Us driving away in the same vehicle because the other car blew its engine and isn’t worth fixing. Me driving like I always do, thinking there’s something to say if I could only think of it.

-Us going back to our apartment with its suffocating lease while we save money for two apartments, reluctant roommates now, splitting the bills and rent.

-Me wondering if we will share the bed tonight or if I will just go to the couch. Maybe we will alternate.

-Me clinching the steering wheel, breathing deeper and asking her if she wants to stop by McDonald’s for a late breakfast although she hasn’t been able to eat in the mornings.

‘Sure,’ she says.

This morning she got sick again. She says it’s just nerves. Maybe it is.

I feel ridiculous. When does the time come when I get to laugh about it all?

About the author 

Michael Gigandet is a lawyer living on a farm in Tennessee. He has been published by the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Reedsy, Spelk Fiction, OrangeBlushZine, Transfigured and Potato Soup Journal. He has published stories in collections by Palm Sized Press, Pure Slush and Down In The Dirt.

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