Anny came over. “Hey,” she said. “Let’s head back.”
Simon walked for a time without awareness, his mind as transpar-
ent as glass. Then he was startled by an old woman, squat, wearing
thick-soled orthopedic shoes, the top of her head no higher than Anny’s
armpits, who turned to him and spoke rapidly in the lisping slur of the
Andalusians, something about garbage in the streets. Simon agreed that
garbage in the streets was a problem. The woman had watery eyes and a
face wide and round as a platter. She grinned as if she had found a kin-
dred spirit after much searching. When the light turned and they began
across the street, she patted him on the arm and hobbled away with a
pained gait. The sun was gone. He came on an orange in his path, and
he kicked it into the street. His thoughts stirred out of the mood they
had found beside the cathedral. Was there a meaning? The coincidence
of the girl’s death wasn’t necessarily meaningful. And if it were, what a
terrible way to send a message. Who wanted a god associated with that,
if that was what god was?
And a baby wouldn’t be all sun and gilding. When he held the baby
it’d be all right. He liked babies. It’d be easier to handle now than the
first time. Dennis would have a sibling. Maybe it would help him to grow
up. But the unexpectedness was galling. They hadn’t planned on Dennis,
either. Life had again taken itself outside his control. He’d be a father
again. It’d be fine. It’d be great. But there would be aspects of it that
wouldn’t be so great. A couple of years of mind-scrambling sleeplessness. His work would suffer. He’d be that graying old dad at the edge
of the playground massaging his knees while the younger dads swung
their kids around. And a child might only temporarily paper over the
widening gaps between himself and Anny. He looked at her. “You’re
beautiful,” he said.
“Thanks.” She smiled without looking at him.
“Really,” he said. “I think so.”
Now she looked at him.
“What,” he said, “is your feeling for me aside from something else?
Aside from a child between us, I mean. Your direct feeling for me.”
“We’ll be all right.”
“If it weren’t for this baby, do you think we would stay together?”
“I’m sure we probably would.”