“I don’t like that word.” I stammer.
“What word? Goodbye?” he asks.
“Don’t…” I grab him by the arm, his biceps tightening as I pinch, and lean in to steady myself. I exhale as I release my grip slowly. After all, this is always how we’ve operated: constantly keeping each other at arms length.
“Okay,” he says, “but what can I say? What should I say?”
“Oranges,” I blurt out, “say oranges.”
There is nothing quite like the word orange in the English language, having passed through numerous other languages including Sanskrit and Old French. It is obscure and acute, which is exactly what goodbyes feel like to me.
“Oranges.” he whispers into the cold early morning air.
“Oranges.” I whimper.
It was the last time I would ever see him.
“We are all human–
we protect ourselves
as well as we can
even to the point of denying
clarity, the point
of self-deception. As in
the consecration to which I alluded.
And yet, within this deception,
true happiness occurred.
So that I believe I would
repeat these errors exactly.
Nor does it seem to me
crucial to know
whether or not such happiness
is built on illusion:
it has its own reality.
And in either case, it will end.”
-Louise Gluck, Earthly Love