Nobody Knows How To Say Goodbye by Richard Spilman

Random story 52.15.2, from Zone 3: here’s the link. Though I was able to find other published stories authored by Richard Spilman, he has no obvious presence on social media, so there’s no way I can l invite him to discuss his story here. As I noted on my recent Ursula LeGuin post, that might be just as well. If you find the post by googling yourself, rest assured: the invite stands; I’d love to talk about your story with you or anyone else who reads it.

In thinking about “Nobody Knows How To Say Goodbye” I find myself decoupling the variables from the values assigned to them. What if he were black and she were white? Or, given the demographics of San Francisco, what if he were Asian and she were Latina? What if she wanted to leave and he wanted to stay? What if she had the high-paying job and he was the stay-at-home dad “two-stepping” his way through nursing school? What if they were both he, or both she? What if, instead of working in IT, he was a banker, or a pharma middle manager, or a dermatologist? What if, in taking the promotion in Raleigh, he’ll get paid less than what he’s making in San Francisco — which, based on what I hear, is how it tends to play out, employers being well aware of geographic cost-of-living differentials. What if he was moving the other direction, from Raleigh to San Francisco? Then he probably would get a raise; then they would be moving to a locale where black-white interracial couples are probably less common. What if the goodbye sex wasn’t very good? What if, instead of being set in the now, this story took place in the 90s, or the 70s, or the 50s — would the setup have been different; or the development, or the outcome? What if, instead of hitting the brakes at the bottom of the hill, he had been hit by the trolley passing through the intersection? Who would be next in line for that big promotion in Raleigh?


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