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They See Their Separation

The Gothenburg Tales

The Gothenburg Tales (Photo Kovuuri G. Reddy)

The moon hung in the sky.

The skyline offered a view of the pyramidal light of a Christmas tree topped with the Star of David at Liseberg.

Liseberg, the most popular landmark in Gothenburg and the biggest amusement park in the Nordic countries, was shut due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the managers decided to highlight a light despite its saddest and dullest year in its history. Most of its seasonal employees were unemployed; the few permanent employees embraced the relentless thud of their lives. And, many amusement seekers failed to harvest the joy of visiting the amusement park, not only during summer and Halloween but also around Christmas.

The window in their living room also offered who entered and who exited by the main door of the building.

“Look, look,” the husband said to his wife, handing her a goblet of white wine.

“What?” the wife asked.

“Down, down,” the husband said, stealthily craning his head.

Together they saw the couple, who were their neighbours. Plausibly they were telling each other ‘we can still be friends’ or ‘we can meet when our daughter visits from Stockholm’ or something pleasant but unrealistic that separating couples normally say to one another.

“Umm,” the wife whispered. She was not surprised that that couple were separating but got the confirmation to a snippet of gossip she was privy to in the building.

“You heard about it,” the husband stressed. “You didn’t tell me.”

“Heard. But not sure that it would be real,” the wife said, feeling sympathy for the woman, the divorcee, whom she neither liked nor disliked.

“Cheers,” the husband said raising his goblet to hers, cheerfully. He envied that man, now a divorcé, for his robust resources and ease of travelling to different destinations for holidays during winters.

The wife saw the Christmas lights, still there; the moon had moved away from its position, and she raised her goblet to his. The goblets clinked. She took a sip, and allowed it to float on her tongue before she swallowed it. She announced, “We should invite Mathilda for dinner during one of these days. Before or after Christmas or New Year’s Eve, or on the first day of next year.”

“We’re occupied,” the husband said without a blink of thought, and took another sip, and checked out what was happening.

The wife collected her mobile phone, found Mathilda’s phone number, and she sent Mathilda an invitation.

The husband was curious. “What did you do?”

“I invited Mathilda for lunch and dinner around New Year’s.”

“That is the time my daughter is visiting us with her daughters.”

“Let her come, Mathilda could also come.”

“But I have to discuss private matters with my daughter.”

“What is that?”

“She is getting divorced,” the husband revealed.

The wife grinned. Her husband wanted to know about other people’s affairs, separations or divorces, but does not want to reveal his nearest one’s divorce to his wife. She announced, “that is all the more a good reason. They could also have the company of one another, comforting, it would be good for them.”

The husband said, reluctantly, “that is a good idea.”

“It could also happen to us.”

“That wouldn’t happen to us,” the husband said feeling the confidence that both of them were on the threshold of retirement, followed by senility or immobility or whichever came earlier.

“You never know,” the wife stated. “Cheers.”

The husband looked out: the moon had moved away but still there, and the pyramidal light of the Christmas tree topped with the Star of David glittered.

“You’re right,” the husband said. “That doesn’t mean I may or — ”

“You’re a kind man,” the wife said, “but — ”

“What?”

“Mathilda sent a message. She says thanks, mentions your name. She says she has something else planned.”

“I can invite her ex-husband.”

The wife thought her husband had an undying appetite for gloating. “You should have quality time with your daughter.”

“It is a festive time. Something good we could do.”

“You’re right,” the wife said. She foresaw what that divorcee and this divorcé were capable of. Her husband could have a quality me-time, she told herself, at the unfolding encounter.

“You’re right,” the husband said, afraid that the divorcees would talk late into the night, and predicting that something could trigger between them. “I should have a quality time with my daughter.”

The wife grinned.

The husband was curious over her grin. “What now?.”

“You’re afraid of inviting him.”

“You’re right, I am.”

“Cheers,” the wife said. “At least you have the courage to accept.”

The moon disappeared. The pyramidal light of Christmas tree topped with the Star of David was covered in fog. The husband and wife went on drinking the white wine until the bottle was finished, and their senses were foggy.

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Kovuuri G. Reddy

Kovuuri G. Reddy

Independent journalist; short, short story writer; living in Sweden. Worked as a broadcast journalist and teaching journalsim and media in England and India.