Gemini Magazine
_______________
“Well, hi there! Welcome aboard.”

“You? YOU? Good heavens!”

“Exactly.”

“I mean, how did you, of all people,
get up here? With the life you led! I
mean…”

“Yeah, I know. But you’re going to
find out that everybody gets here.
Everybody. No matter what. And by
the way, it’s not ‘up here.’ It’s sort of
everywhere. All over. Up and down
and in and out and around. It’s just
different, hard to explain. You’ll see.”

Everyone? Are you trying to tell me
that even Hitler and Saddam Hussein
and Joe McCarthy made it up here? I
mean, here?”

“Yup, all of them. Of course, they’ve
been put in special Learning Centers,
but they’re here.”

“And do they work? The Learning
Centers, I mean.”

“Sooner or later, apparently. Hitler’s
doing better than the rest, but it’s
slow going for all of them. Naturally,
time is not a factor.”

“Naturally. So, what about Learning
Centers for adulterers and
philanderers?”

“Ah, yes. I was wondering when we’d
get to that. I’m truly sorry—very,
very sorry—to have caused you so
much pain. I never wanted to hurt
you, believe me. It’s just that I
couldn’t seem to help myself.”

“So I noticed. Over and over again.
But I blame myself too. Why in God’s
name— whoops, sorry, guess you
can’t say that here—”

“Oh, sure you can, nobody cares.”

“Why the hell didn’t I leave you? I
just stuck around, letting it happen,
hoping things would change but
knowing they wouldn’t. What an
idiot.”

“Change is hard. Most of us find it
easier to stick with the ‘devil you
know,’ so to speak.”

“Oh, for God’s sake—damn, there I
go again.”

“It’s okay.”

“Well, for heaven’s sake, how did
you get to be so sanctimonious?”

“It happens very easily here.
Something you have to watch out
for.”

“I see. Anyway, though I hate to
admit it, one reason I didn’t leave is,
we did have some awfully good
times together. Let’s face it.”

“Oh, we did. We certainly did.”

“Funnily enough, I’m beginning to
care less and less about all that other
stuff. Even just a few days ago,
before I—well, you know—”

“It’s okay. You’ll start caring less
about that too.”

“Even a few days ago, if anyone had
mentioned your name, I would have
told them how much I hated you.
Now, I don’t really mind you at all.
Really, not at all.”

“That’s the way it goes here. You’ll
see. Things that seemed all-
important just begin to drop away.”

“Do they? Well, I’ll miss it. Hating
you, I mean. It was almost like a
hobby.”

“You’ll find other things to replace it.”

“Are you serious? I find it hard to
believe! One of the things I’ve
always wondered about was—
assuming I’d ever get here—the
boredom. Day after day after day,
forever. Good behavior all the time.”

“No, it’s not like that, either. But
speaking of good behavior—or,
rather, bad behavior—do you
remember the time we snuck into
the Chamberlains’ cottage after
skinny-dipping in their pool?”

“And raiding their bar, and then
making love on their living room
floor?”

“And they slept through the whole
thing!”

“Oh, God, yes! (There I go again. Ah,
well.) It was a trip, wasn’t it?”

“The Chamberlains are here, by the
way. You’ll see them.”

“Do they know?”

“Probably, but it really doesn’t
matter. To get to the boredom
thing…”

“Oh, yes.”

“I’m going to give you a little tour.
And you’ll start to get the idea.”

“So, where do we go?”

“Nowhere. Look down. That’s it. Now
look up, slowly. Look all around you.
Look at everything that’s going on,
everywhere. Take your time. And
listen to what’s happening.”

“I don’t see much, and I don’t hear a
thing.”

“Keep trying. It takes concentration,
and a little practice. Little by little,
you’ll start…”

“Oh, my God! I do, I do! It’s
beginning to—oh, my. It’s all so…so
incredible! It’s…fascinating! Oh,
dammit, I can’t find the right words
for this. So this is what it’s all about!
Who would have thought?”

“Well, what could we have even
guessed, in that little place?”

“Nothing. Not a damned thing.”

“We thought it was all the beginning
and the end, didn’t we—when it was
just the beginning, my love. Just the
beginning.”
by Susan Bryant
REUNION
Susan Bryant's work has appeared or is
forthcoming in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery
Magazine, No Experience Required (2001 short
story contest winner), Compass Rose, The
Griffin, RiverSedge, The London Evening News,
The Tusculum Review and elsewhere. She lives
in Gettysburg, PA.