A “talk” between two lovers is a private affair–a nearly universal euphemism for an argument. The sort of talk that occurs in the confines of one’s home, over a telephone, or in an uncomfortable car ride. Such talks are rarely seen or heard by people outside of the tenuous relationship, but most everyone can remembering having one. Even more personal than the conversation you’re having with your significant other, however, is the conversation you have with yourself during the dispute.
Paul Edmond Robichaud welcomes readers into that private mess of thoughts in “Staying In,” which won third place in the 2006 Quebec Writing Competition and recently was posted on the Maisonneuve website. The short story opens as the narrator listens to his wife issue bullet points of redress in the relationship: “You’re outlining the ways we’re broken,” he writes, but his attention isn’t long. “After number two, I aim my eyes over your shoulder, out the living room window. The rounded treetops behind our building are full of golden light, dusty with snow that’s blowing around.”
Although the reader never finds out what the bullet points are, one quickly feels a heightened awareness of these characters because of the intimate details of an argument that almost always remain unspoken.