By John A. McCaffrey, third person pov, linear narrative with flashbacks recalled by the theme of words.  Opening with a description by a man of his girlfriend’s apartment while she is away picking up a pizza, we realize he is forming an opinion of her by her surroundings and finds himself comfortable in the space.  McCaffrey then introduces conflict via a notebook in which she apparently has been learning English words by writing down the definitions of something he has said to her.

McCaffrey gives us the detail of emotion without the character being present (se: How do I say it without saying it?).  Following a description of her dainty and precise script, he comes to the word "possessive" and explains it thusly: "It is almost scratched into the paper.  There is no curl at the end of the "e." The definition for "resolve" is written in all caps. Here lies the tension between the couple, that the man is just realizing now.

This particular story emphasizes the  element of character change brought about by facing conflict.  It is ironic that even as he learns about her  from her things rather than their  communication, he is facing himself and acknowledging that changes might be necessary.  McCaffrey closes in on this particular character, his particular relationship even as he provides a background of people in other apartments all around him going through their own routines.  He does resolve to change: he searches for the special word he knows and wants her to write down.  He’s such a sweetie.

So there is some satisfaction given the reader in this story, something fragile seen in relationships and yet we are cheered by his awareness and attitude.  That is, if this is more than a momentary guilt.

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