A Matter of Definition by Robert Eydmann Jr

Greg was sitting with his head on the table, arms wrapped around it, when the two men entered the room. He lifted his head just enough to see over his arms and watched them as they shifted chairs to the opposite side and sat down. The older one opened a plastic bottle of water and took a long drink. The younger one looked slowly around the room, as if he hadn’t seen it before. Greg sat up and wiped his forearm across his mouth.

“Can I go home?” he asked.

Neither of the men replied. The older one drank again. The younger looked up at the ceiling.

A single bulb hung, giving a warm yellow glow. Greg repeated his question.

The younger man spoke first, “What do you know about regret?” he asked.

“I just want to go home,” Greg said.

“Do you think it’s that easy?” asked the older man. Greg held out his hands.

“It was an honest mistake.”

The older man shook his head, “No such thing.”

Greg stared at him, “What do you mean?”

“It’s one of those things, when you say an honest mistake. One of those,” he clicked his fingers, looking at the younger man, “What do you call them?”

“Call what?” he asked disinterestedly.

“When you say something that contradicts itself.” “I don’t know. A contradiction?”

“No,” said the older man, rotating his right hand at the wrist in quick circles, “It’s got a name.”

“Does it matter?” asked the younger one.

“Of course it does. Everything matters.”

“I don’t think so,” the younger said.

Greg watched them. He was sweating and sticky and tired. “I don’t understand,” he said.

“Be quiet,” the older man told him. “I’m thinking.”

Greg was quiet. Everyone was quiet. There was nothing but silence. Silence and waiting.

Published in Issue #25

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