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October 2019 Vol. 15 No. 3

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Antonietta Losito

Wishing for an On-Off Switch

Once again, he’s next to the newsstand where I buy my morning paper. And again, I drop my eyes to avoid talking to him but fall into his trap by answering his greeting. He begins to suggest things, his lessons about life, the same sort of topics as always: disaster, decadence, ailments, his stoic generation and religion. I try to ignore him by not responding, but fail. After twenty minutes of his non-stop diatribe, I’m still caught up in my parents' teachings to be polite, to respect my elders. As he rattles on, I wonder what he wants from me. Admiration? Applause? But he's getting the opposite. I try gently to add some experience of my own, but he sidesteps my comments and quickly returns to center stage. I try to count slowly to ten, or maybe a hundred, breathe deeply and remind myself that this is an opportunity to test my patience and the ability to listen without judgment. What is it that Socrates said: "What do I know?" But, by the time I count to twenty, I'd like dump a pail of water on him.

falling snow –
the silence of a blank
piece of paper


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