The Known World

“God, the world seems so far away.”

“Nope. Still right here, right where I last put it.”

“The rest of the world, funny boy, the known world, not the world world world.”

“Oh. You mean the world where my job is about to end–”

“And my unemployment about to run out? Yes that world. Stop now, dearest, you’re giving me a tummy ache.”

“Poor tummy.”

“You know that’s where all my stress goes. What are you doing down there? Kisses don’t cure tummy aches, you know.”

“Worth a try though, right? Poor tummy. And anyway, you’re right. The world is far away.”

“Tickles! Although that airplane right up there is a bit of proof, you know, that the world is still out there waiting for us.”

“With its big sharp teeth? Yes. But it’s an airplane. It is far away. Far up at least.”

“Let’s find a nice flat-ish spot for the blanket. Bleak reminders of my miserable, pathetic existence and my dire future prospects make me hungry.”

“This is your belly: RAWR! I AM HONGREH!”

“Silly boy, my belly does not say ‘hongreh,’ although I will admit to the occasional RAWR! And anyway, over there looks nice. Pick up that basket and let’s go. Just think how much less you’ll have to carry back down.”

“Except somehow the picnic basket’s always heavier after the picnic.”

“And it’s always darkest just before dawn.”

“No, I mean it. It really is heavier.”

“But it isn’t, you know. I mean, you know it isn’t. Certain items of mass and weight are removed from the basket, like so, then consumed by the picnickers – that’s us – and, once they are consumed, they are in fact not returned to the basket. Which means the overall mass and weight in the basket has been reduced. Therefore. Ergo. Lighter, not heavier.”

“Smart girl, you. Such a smart girl.”

“Mmm, I know. Have a grape.”

“I like the green ones best.”

“I know. I bought the red ones to show how much I hate you. Subtle, eh?”

“Meanest girl I ever loved. Meanest girl in the whole damn county, yes you are. You shouldn’t say that, you know. You shouldn’t put things like that out there in the world.”

“Except you know that I love you too much to ever, ever hate you. And anyway if I did somehow manage to get around to hating you, I wouldn’t bother to tell you. And anyway, if we’re talking about things that shouldn’t be done–”

“Maybe I shouldn’t insult the food you pack for our picnic? You’re right, I shouldn’t. I didn’t mean it that way though.”

“I know you didn’t. I was being prickly and impossible.”

“You’re good at that.”

“I know. I learned from a master.”

“Your sweet-talking will get you nowhere with me, girl. Actually, no, that’s wrong. Everywhere, I meant to say. Your sweet-talking ways will get you everywhere with me. Which I guess doesn’t really need to be said, does it?”

“It’s a little self-evident, I’ll admit, but nice to hear, nonetheless.”

“I love it when you use big words. Use more big words. Wait, wait, let me lay back and close my eyes. Now. Go. Use more big words.”

“Nonetheless isn’t a big word. It’s three tiny words all squashed up next to each other.”

“Heart. Broken.”

“I know. I’m so cruel to you.”

“Dreams. Shattered.”

“I am a poo-pooher of things.”

“Stop that. Stop that poo-poohing right this second. Is there cake?”


“Something sweet. Cookies or cake or, I don’t know, Jello or something?”

“Grapes are sweet.”

“Grapes are not sweet. Grapes are sweet tart. Grapes are a palate cleanser prior to the real dessert, which is in this basket somewhere right? Right?”

“Oh, dessert! You mean the cookies. Why didn’t you say so? Check the little zipper pouch thingy in the lid.”

“Cruel, cruel mistress, you are such a tease. Lovely, clever zipper pouch thingy which keeps my cookies from being crushed, oh how I love you so. And chocolate chip!”

“I thought they’d go nicely with the wine.”

“Semi-sweet chocolate and peanut noir. Perfect.”

“I knew you’d think so. And in fact, I knew you’d say so. I knew you’d say exactly that. Peanut noir. You’re becoming predictable, my love. Boring and predictable.”

“Reliable, you meant to say. Dependable and steady. Comfortable.”

“Like an old shoe. Are you planning to eat all those cookies yourself?”

“That’s me, an old shoe of a boyfriend. Here, try one. They’re great. Homemade, even.”

“An old shoe of a lover.”

“I think we ran out of joke here. We might want to go ahead and stop now. Or even better, a sentence or two ago.”

“Kind of hard to imagine where to go from there.”

“So let’s not. Imagine, that is.”


“Should we start heading back soon?”



“Not just yet.”


“We have everything we need right here. This blanket and this basket. These leftover sandwiches and grapes and the last few dribbles of a semi-decent red.”

“We can stay if you like. We’ll build a treehouse and live off the land. Are you getting cold?”


“Come here. There. How’s that?”

“Better, thanks. You’re right, you know.”

“Of course I am, although it’s nice of you to say so. Or…did you want to be more specific?”

“You’re right about the basket. It’s heavier. Or it’s going to be heavier, once we pick it up.”



“Are you crying?”



“I considered it though. Considered it and rejected the idea out of hand.”

“Go ahead if you want. If you need to. You know.”

“I just can’t imagine how it’s going to end, you know? I mean, I can. I do imagine it, all the time. But I sort of lost the ability to imagine the happy endings.”

“I know.”

“Every time we don’t tell each other how worried we are, every time I decide to spare you my black thoughts, I think, ‘we’re doing it wrong.'”

“Yeah but what are we supposed to do, be all, ‘I’m worried!’ ‘yeah, me too!’ all day? I mean, what good do we do each other if we do that?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not saying…I mean, what good do we do each other if we stop talking? I just–”

“I know. But we haven’t stopped talking.”

“I just want some ordinary problems.”

“I know.”

“And I want us to be okay.”

“Don’t ask for much, do you?”

“I told you. I am a greedy girl.”

“Greedy greedy girl.”

“That’s me.”

“Even if you can’t imagine the happy endings, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I mean, you should try to remember that. Just because you can’t imagine it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”

“I know.”

“Don’t forget, okay?”

“I’m trying.”

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Cynthia Lugo

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