The Argument    

by Cezarija Abartis




Wait, he said.


She was shivering and put on a sweater. She turned to him and heard static in her brain. Maybe he had said that he was overweight.


She said, NoĖyouíre fine.


She was coming down with a head cold, and now he wanted to ask her not to leave. Or maybe he was saying he didnít believe her. When she looked out the window, the moon had taken on the squashed-oval shape that a child might have pencilled in an anguished drawing. If she was leaving, she might not come back. Would not come back.


This was too much. Love was not supposed to be this sawtoothed.


Iím sorry, he said. I was wrong to be late, to betray, to not take out the trash.


She did not think trash was such a wrong. Well, she said.


Iím sorry for not doing the laundry, for not putting away my clothes, for not cleaning the plates. He stepped toward her.


She stepped back.


Iím sorry about the car, the rent, the job I lost, the world.


Or did he say ďwoodsĒ? She had forgotten how he had not brought a picnic basket to the woods on their anniversary, how he lost the keys to the house, how he promised he would be polite to her mother.


No, that was not it.


He stepped toward her and took her hand. You have a fever, he said. Youíre still sick.


She breathed out a hot breath. She slumped down to the couch.


Iíll bring you a blanket, he said. Iíll take care of you. Iíll make you butterscotch pudding.

She sat against the cushions. She thought of stars and meadows. That would be a life. Or would it be a lie? She was exhausted and distant like the stars. Her head swirled. She folded her hands in her lap   like an imperial child. She coughed.


I want tea and honey, she said.


Honey, he said and patted her hand.






Cezarija Abartis' Nice Girls and Other Stories was published by New Rivers Press. Her stories have appeared in Per Contra, Pure Slush, Waccamaw, and New York Tyrant, among others. Her flash, ďThe Writer,Ē was selected by Dan Chaon for Wigleafís Top 50 online Fictions of 2012. Recently she completed a novel, a thriller. She teaches at St. Cloud State University. Her website is