Third Meeting Of The Census Takers Training Group

“I work with the dregs of society,” he says. He is holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a sandwich in the other, and though this is the first time he has spoken to any of the younger people here and though I am astonished he has come to me, I cannot help but wonder as he talks why his hair is so white, because it makes him look so much older than thirty-seven.

For all the times I have watched him from across the room sitting cold and still,  unflinching, next to his odd little wife, and for all the times he has looked at me for longer than what could have been a comfortable glance and then looked away without even a twitch of his lips, I am so nervous for fear of him thinking me an idiot but I have nothing to say.

And just because he seems so timid now, standing only a little bit taller than me with his shoes off, I cannot help but feel that I know too much about this man (I have even touched my bare skin to the same toilet seat), and just as I start to picture myself running headlong into his soft and awkward man-arms of love, he spills his coffee on the carpet and tries to soak it up with his sock feet because he thinks no one has seen what he has done. “Excuse me,” he says and is gone.

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