The Reader / by Alex Williamson

He found his wife in the kitchen, sitting at the table with the laptop open. She was not typing, but reading, with a look of disquiet he had seen many times over the course of their marriage, one usually reserved for resolving conflicts between their children, or when listening to one of his misanthropic complaints, and he wondered what was causing her disquiet, this troubled countenance, maybe an email from a relative disclosing a serious illness, news of another man-made catastrophe or the latest statement from their joint bank account. Skirting the edge of the table, he asked her what she was reading, and she raised her eyes from the screen and replied, I’m reading you, now considering him with a different look, as a nurse might a hypochondriac.

The woman he had loved for over a decade, whose love he depended on, the only person whose opinion meant anything, and even now he couldn’t ask if this endeavour made sense, made any sense at all, to her gracious, gentle mind. I’m reading you. Those three words mattered more than anything else.