“Did you know he wrote most of the book in solitary confinement?” she said.
“In this apartment? He locked himself up in his study?” my father said, dabbing his mouth with a cloth napkin. He then carefully folded it in four and slid it one-third under his plate. To make sure it does not wriggle open, I assume.
And I caught myself starting at you.
It was when I realised I couldn’t have made you feel content no matter what that I began to accept things. A somewhat forced existence with you, on and off — the things we used to do together, vague and distant, silent and oppressing. A sustained need to keep us going, customary fears, the backlash of an all-encompassing commonality. Seeking to adapt, to meet poorly defined expectations. Not that I was seeking them too hard or you were offering too much.
“Solitary confinement as in a prison,” she whispered, focusing on her empty plate, her hands clasped in her lap.
Father cleared his throat and said, “Yes.” And added, while flattening the folded side of the napkin, “I should have remembered.”
“He had no access to newspapers or literature, but they regarded science as a benign aberration of the mind,” she added, aloud.
You invited me to your house often, just to run me off later, every time, no exceptions. Which, I suppose, was fair enough.
Do you remember? I sketched your hand once and when I was done I realised it was mine.