NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Five

“So you had another fight?”

“Not a fight really, just, I don’t know…”

“A misunderstanding?” Colin grinned. He’d twitted me about using that word before.

I sighed and helped him get down a particularly steep part of the rocky bank. Colin had some hormonal kind of thing, and even though he was older than me, nearly twenty-five, he looked mostly like a little kid. A little kid with a disturbingly knowing face, maybe, but then lots of kids have disturbingly knowing faces, right?

“I don’t know. That’s the problem! Does she understand? Does she even listen to what I say? It’s like I say one thing, and she hears something completely different.”

Colin picked up a stick from the ground and chucked it off the path, such as it was, in the direction of the river.

“She’s not stupid,” he said, “she understands words just fine.”

“Except when I say them,” I said, sighing again I guess. It’s not like I liked talking about this stuff, but it was happening, and Colin was there. Being who he was, and the whole hormonal thing or whatever, he was kind of outside of society, looking in at it in some kind of amused objectivity, and he could see things sometimes that nobody else could, from being too close or whatever.

“Maybe you aren’t saying what you think you’re saying,” he said unhelpfully.


“You know, we’ve talked about this; it’s not like when you talk you’re teleporting some fact from your brain to hers. You make some mouth noises, and she experiences some ear-tickles, and –“

“Come on,” I said, “if you think about it that way, you can never say anything! Gee, what kind of ear-tickles will she get if I make these mouth noises, and which synapses in her brain will fire? It’s not like anyone can know any of that. You have to just say things, just say what’s true.”

“Steve…,” he said in that annoying voice. We were coming down to the very edge of the river now, and the water was loud, but not loud enough to make it hard to talk. The river was full of rocks here, like it was everywhere, and the water piled up and splashed around and foamed between them, and the air was cool with spray and bursts of mist.

“What? I’m saying true things here, and you’re hearing them. It has to be simple, otherwise we couldn’t communicate at all. A baby doesn’t need to learn, like, graduate semiotics before it can say that it wants a bottle.”

Colin laughed, sounding like a kid laughing because he had a kid’s throat and mouth, but also sounding like an adult because he had an adult’s brain (a nerdy adult at that).

“Yeah, but you aren’t a baby, and you aren’t telling Kristen that you want a bottle. Boyfriend and girlfriend is way different from that.”

“I just want things to be simple.”

“Yeah, welcome to Earth, Steve-lad,” he said, sitting down carefully on a flat rock surrounded by little branches of swift water. He was, as usual, wearing a kid-sized version of like an Edwardian Moor-Walking Suit or some shit like that, looking crazily proper for someone sitting on a rock. “The way of a man with a maid is seldom simple,” and he sighed elaborately, like an actor over-acting a scene.

“Okay,” I said, “this time it was that she sent me this thing that she’d made, a cute 3D simulation thing with secret places in it, and you walk around and these little guys slowly hint where the secret places are, and it was pretty cool.”

Colin looked at me for a second, waiting for me to say something else I guess, and then said, “Yeah, and…?”

“And I don’t know!” I said, a little loud maybe, “I messaged her back saying that it was very cool, and she was all offended or upset or something!”

“What exactly did you say, Steve-o?”

“I said, like, ‘that’s cool!’ I think; which it was! It was a compliment.”

“Not exactly gushing, that,” Colin said.

“Do I have to be gushing? Do I have to say that everything she does is just the most amazing thing ever?”

“It sounds like she probably worked pretty hard on it.”

“I know! She must have! But right when she sent it I was in the middle of tuning my rig, and I didn’t have a chance to go into it deep, and before I got time, she was already all huffy, and I don’t know. I said it was cool like as soon as she sent it.”

“Look, Steve,” Colin said in a serious kid-voice, “think of it from her point of view, she worked hard on –“

“I know, I should have turned off the rig instantly, wasted half an hour’s tuning –“

He laughed annoyingly on the rock.

“Or you could have told her sweetly that it looked cool, and you’d look at it as soon as you were done with the tuning, or you could have not said anything until you were done, or…”

I know I sighed then. “But those would have made her huffy, too. Isn’t she more important than the tuning thing? Or why do I take so long to get back to her?”

“So you want credit because you said that it was cool, and that was a compliment, and you said it fast, right?”

“That would have been fair.”

“And even though that was what you said, she heard something else?”

The river burbled louder and softer between the rocks, nice and simple, no chance of misunderstanding.

“Yeah. She must have heard, I don’t know, that I didn’t like it, or didn’t respect her, or something.”

“Really? She reacted just like you’d said ‘This sucks’ or ‘You’re dumb’ or like that?”

“No, no, no…” That was the thing about talking to Colin, I think; that when you said something, he heard exactly what you said, and asked you questions about it, and you could realize that what you said wasn’t exactly what you meant. Rather than like getting all huffy and insulted.

“This is where we start singing ‘Why Can’t A Woman, Be More Like A Man?’, right?” Colin loves all these weird old books and movies and stuff. He’d shown me and Kristen that Professor Higgins movie on the rota the other week; it was pretty good, if weird.

I laughed, which felt good. “So I should just apologize to her or whatever, right?” I said, resigning myself.

“Yeah, you could. Never hurts.”

“How do I keep it from happening again?”

“You don’t, Stevie, Steve-man, Steveorino,” he said helpfully, “but if you remember that she will hear whatever you say as Kristen, not as Steve or Colin would, it’ll help.”

“Like I know how it is to hear stuff as Kristen.”

“Well, yeah, that’s the challenge. Be easy on her, and on yourself. It’s all good.”

And that’s how conversations with Colin tended to end. It’s all good. Just keep on keepin’ on.

Good advice I guess.

Fling Six

One Trackback to “NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Five”


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: