Gordie, red-faced, stepped away, while Talia busied herself with search-
ing for the aluminum foil, beginning to understand what she must have
been sensing over the past weeks: that Gordie had, in fact, reached out
before but each time had faltered. There had been a moment a few days
earlier when he had seemed on the verge of some kind of confession. Even
so, as she found the foil—on the counter right in front of her—she told
herself it was impossible, there must be some mistake. She was old Or
did he not know just how old she was? People always thought her younger
than her age. And so, as she fumbled with the leftover pie, trying to pre-
tend nothing had happened, she said, “In my forty-five years, I’ve never
made such a good pie,” feeling ridiculous. She could not look Gordie in
the eye as she handed it to him, repeating, “In all my forty-five years—”
“I know how old you are,” Gordie said flatly, and instead of taking the
pie, left it there, heading down the stairs and out the door, and then back
upstairs to his place.
Talia had gone to the living room, to the wall that abutted Gordie’s.
For a long time she stood there. She wanted to say something, even just
that she was sorry, and leaned her ear against the wall as if to glean
some bit of wisdom. She could hear, faintly, the creak of the floor beneath Gordie’s feet. With the tips of her fingers, she made a light rippling
sound against the wall. She waited, then tried again. Even after she had
given up and gone to bed, she lost sleep trying to think how to make
And then came the next morning, her run, the hospital.
At VFW Post 19, behind a metal desk with a placard saying Be an American Legion Volunteer, a young woman with many silver rings on her
fingers asked Talia if she was here for the youth mentoring training. Talia tried to sound businesslike as she explained about the jogger and the
ambulance. She asked if anyone from the VFW might have witnessed
“You from the Chronicle?” The woman wore her hair sheared very
close on one side, the other side cut on a sharp diagonal.
“I just want to thank the people who helped out,” Talia told her. “Let
them know the jogger’s all right.” She let her gaze shift away. A bright
stone from one of the rings flashed as the woman penned Talia’s number
on a notepad. A diamond; it was an engagement ring. Talia felt herself
making a familiar, involuntary calculation: that this woman, too, had
managed, like so many others, to find someone.