As Many Words

As Many Words Audio Available!
Ah crap, did I just become a soppy romance writer?
In all seriousness, though, it's something I was thinking about, and I was trying to figure out a social context in which the idea could be broached, when it occurred to me that (despite all indications of my past record) there's really no limit on how short a fictionalized vignette can be, and whipped this little number up!..

As Many Words
Surprisingly, another sappy Thom Swanson original short

                “…hey, you ever think about,” he started, balancing the phone precariously on his shoulder to free up the second hand to compare a product off the shelf, shifting track mid-thought, “Sorry, this is kind of random, I’m trying to figure how to phrase it without sounding super creepy.”
                “What’s that?” she asked.
                He pictured her as hanging off her bed, hair dangling in front of her eyes unconcernedly following the computer screen, one hand holding the phone to her ear while the other continued its fruitless endeavor to make independent use of the wireless keyboard propped against a leg protruding askew at some impractical angle. He had no way of confirming this image, but it was not unfounded.
                He took a stab at framing it, “Like, you know that thing where you’re in public, and you see a stranger talking on the phone to someone they love, and it’s, like, super obvious?”
                “Yeah, I guess,” she said. She’d found something on her project: He could hear her reading. Upside down.
                “They’ve got that face, you know? Like, utterly, stupidly blissful? Like, at that precise moment there’s absolutely nothing else in the world but whoever’s on the other end of the line? I don’t know, maybe that doesn’t make any sense…”
                “No, sure. The face; I get you. What about it?”
                “I don’t know, just, I really like that, you know?” he said, “Like, that sounds weird or whatever, but seriously. It’s just, like, really pure, and honest. And they’re like, so freakin’ happy that you’re happy for them? Like, it gives you faith in humanity. It’s like a chick-flick, but, like, real you know? No one ever thinks about that…”
                “Yea, huh,” she was stretching for the mouse. There was a garbled electronic translation of whirlwind scrolling, “I mean, apparently you do.”
                “Yeah, well, I was looking at pickles just now and saw my reflection,” he offered unthinkingly, “I had that exact face.”
                “Wait,” she said. There was the muffled static of displacement, followed by the staccato overtones of typing, “Did you just say ‘I love you’ for the first time?”
                He had a small flip of panic, as he simultaneously processed the assertion, playback of what he’d actually said, what he actually meant as he’d said it, the appropriateness of whatever that meaning amounted to, and bemusement that she could still cause him this kind of anxiety. He then realized he was gaping at the asparagus, and made to play it cool.
                “I mean, not in as many words,” he said trying to recover with coy. Not that it amounted to much: She could always tell what he actually meant.
                There was a slight pause as she finished typing her sentence, “Yeah, well, I love you too.”

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