“Echo” by Olena Jennings, page 2

         “My boss is great, but I can’t see myself working there forever. It’s depressing.”
         “Depressing?” His surprise at her statement made her realize that he didn’t feel the same despondency when he went to take out the garbage and saw the couple pieces of lonely greenery at the edge of the parking lot.
         When they left the club it was colder out than it had been when they entered. He warmed her hand between his. She didn’t know why she let him or why she had ended up with him. They had nothing to talk about. “What about your family?” she asked.
         “I have a son,” he said.
         “How old is he?”
         He was exactly half Alexandra’s age.
         “What about you?” he asked.
         “I live with my parents.”
         “I wouldn’t have chosen the suburbs on my own,” she said.
         When they drove back to his house, he invited her in. He was ravenous he said and would make a pasta dish for dinner.
         “I’m not hungry at all,” she told him.
         The house was decorated like the office. He had the same kind of knick-knacks: hearts painted blue with other blue hearts dangling from them and wreaths woven from straw. She took off her shoes and walked across the brown linoleum. There was a family room with wooden walls.
         “Let me show you something,” he said. He opened the microwave. The suction sound of the door being released echoed in another room.
         “What was that?” she asked.
         “My parrot.”
         “Your parrot?”
         Soon she was led into the room where she was introduced to the green feathered bird.
         “My name is Louis,” Louis said.
         “My name is Louis,” the parrot repeated.
         “You sure you don’t want to stay for dinner? I’m going to make myself something anyway.”
         “I really should get going,” she said.
         He walked her out the door and kissed her on the cheek.
         She wanted to wash the whole night from her memory. She had never considered what type of person owned a parrot, but now Louis seemed like the perfect parrot owner. So many mysteries about him were solved. When he was at his desk making import/export calls, saying “we” to mean “I”, he was most likely thinking of his parrot. And, when he drove his car from the parking lot around lunch time it may have been to go home and feed the bird.
         At the stoplight she closed her eyes and imagined exploring the city with him, the way the baklava would melt on her tongue at Greek Fest or the taste of tartar sauce at a Friday night fish fry. Maybe it wouldn’t have been bad, but she would have felt slightly uncomfortable, always would have had the imagined taste of the brown rug in her mouth and a parrot echoing her most intimate phrases.
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