one hundred thousands words could not quite explain.

 

Samantha stretched, her bare calves rubbing against the fabric of on the chaise lounge, contemplating the question.

“I got most of what I wanted,” she said.

“But how did the… negotiation… go? What are your feelings about it?” Negotiation was Samantha’s word. Dr. Smith preferred ‘discussion’ or ‘dialogue,’ words that were more tame and lacked a history in connection with wars and peace treaties. He had once tried ‘conciliation’— Samantha ignored the term, on the grounds of its glaring inaccuracy. In addition to negotiation she would also accept ‘settlement,’ in the appropriate context.

“I would have preferred a root canal,” said Samantha, her voice void of inflection. Dr. Smith scribbled something on his pad of paper. Samantha craned her neck but couldn’t make out what it was.

“It will make things easier though. The arrangements.” Samantha studied the ceiling as she spoke, not looking at the doctor. “Taylor gets weekends— except for prearranged special occasions. I get holidays. Including Halloween.”

“That was how you wanted it?”

“We still keep in contact with some of our old teachers— favorite professors and such. They’re more or less mine now. We didn’t lay it out that way, but Taylor has never been one for staying in contact…” She trailed off, some stray thought distracting her. Samantha’s eyes misted slightly, as if she was seeing something in the room that the doctor couldn’t.

“I get luncheons and coffee dates,” Samantha said, her eyes coming back into focus. “Dinner parties we’re supposed to alternate.”

“So that you won’t be at the same functions?” Dr. Smith asked, looking up from his pad.

“That’s the idea. As few connections as possible.” The usual tone of sarcasm was absent from Samantha’s voice. “I’ve already started putting our photos in boxes. And I’m trying to limit communication— no phone calls. I don’t want to fall back into old patterns. Nostalgia is a waste.”

“Uh-huh. And what else have you been doing while all this is going on?”

“Keeping busy. I’ve being looking for new organizations to join, to branch out. Make new friends… as Taylor suggested…”

“Are you worried that this will impede your social life?” Asked Dr. Smith, watching Samantha’s eyes as they darted from ceiling tile to ceiling tile.

“Yes,” she said. Dr. Smith waited for her to continue, but she didn’t.

“And do you think that, with everything that has happened, your social standing will change? That perhaps you’ll lose other people in your life?”

“I will.” It was a matter of fact. Sides would be taken, and hers was a sorry side to be on. Maybe sides had been taken long before, and she had failed to realize. After all, she had missed all the other signs.

“A lot of people in your situation might feel a sense of regret. Do you?”

“I don’t want to be involved with someone who doesn’t want to…” Samantha paused, choosing her words carefully. “Be associated with me.”

Samantha rolled onto her side, looking at the doctor while she spoke. “I suppose I should have planned for this in advance. You know, anticipated that this sort of thing could happen. Maybe then I would have seen it coming.”

Dr. Smith added another note to his pad, and Samantha returned to lying on her back.

“But who really expects to lose their best friend?”

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