: : : FLETCHER’S IN FREYA’S APARTMENT, drinking Scotch. Freya's explaining something that happened at work and Fletcher's mind has begun to drift, distracted slightly by the look of the apartment. Jakob moved out of here about two weeks ago and the place feels a little bit ransackedthe big bookshelf along the wall is about two-thirds empty, the remaining books slumping into the gap; the coffee table where Fletcher would normally put his drink is gone, a void in the middle of the room, marked off by four dents in the carpet. He sets his drink on his knee.
Freya must notice him looking around, because she aborts the work story in what feels like the middle and says Sorry the place is such a wreckI haven't really had a chance to
Don't worry about it, Fletcher says. It's cool.
OK, Freya says. She looks around the room for a minute and then makes a sour face, some immense strain revealing itself. Fletcher looks down at his drink.
So, um, he says, watching the ice drift lazily around the rim of the glass, how are things, without Jakob here?
Eh, Freya says. They're fine, I guessI meanit's kind of weird, actually, we're still talking on the phone like every night. It's likeneither of us quite know what to do from here on out. I guess I'm not sure that either of us exactly get it yetthe split, what it means. We're still kind of trying it out.
Did he get over the whole Joshua incident? Fletcher asks.
Yeah, Freya says, eventually. Or at least he stopped talking to me about it, which I guess at this point amounts to about the same thing.
So how about you? she asks, after a long sigh. How was Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania wasit was good, Fletcher says. He thinks of Cassandra and Leander and he smiles. Yeah; it was good.
You guys still talking about tying the knot?
Talking about it, says Fletcher. It's tough, though: neither of us really know where we're going to be in a year.
Is she still having trouble fitting in with the, uh, culture of PA?
Uh, Fletcher says. He gives a bitter little smile. Yeah, he admits, yeah, I think it's safe to say that. I mean, on one hand she kind of likes being out in the countryshe's got a little yard, where Leander can play, and there's like miles of fields and woods and shitbut, I don't know, the people are pretty conservative, and the museum she's working for is very conservative, so, yeah, she's having kind of a rough time. So she might want to stay in Lancaster, she might want to leaveit's hard to say.
And you? Freya says. You thinking about sticking around in Chicago or?
I don't know, says Fletcher. This is basically my last year at DuSable, after this I'm out of funding, so, I mean, in theory I should be looking around for a jobbut the job market for poets isn't really looking too hot at the moment, especially a poet who doesn't have a book out yet. I applied for this fellowship in Madison, but other than that there's not really that much that looks promising for the fall. I'll probably end up either staying on as DuSable as an adjunctthey seem like they'd be able to set me up thereor I'll move out to Pennsylvania and doI don't know what.
Wait tables, Freya says.
Yeah, Fletcher says. I mean, there are times when I just want to hang up the whole academia thing and just do something elsebut I don't really know what else I'd be any good at.
Clark seems to manage, Freya says.
True, says Fletcher, but ClarkI don't know, I think Clark knew, pretty early on, that she didn't want to work in the academy. She caught sight of some of the fucked-up shit that goes onyou know, like the sexual politics of the academy?and I think she just wrote off the whole academic world as basically corrupted. I think she'd rather be doing whatever it is she doeswriting video game scripts or travel magazines or what have you. And, I mean, the more I look at it, the more I think she might be rightI look around and I see all this glad-handing and self-promotionI don't know if I want to do that for the rest of my lifeit just seems so tiresome. You get to thinking maybe it wouldn't be so bad, to be like a janitor, and then to get to go home at the end of the day to your wife and your kid and not to have this feeling hanging over you all the timethis feeling that you have this thing that's a career and that you have to sort of constantly be thinking about how to manage it.
Let me know if you want a job selling CDs, Freya says.
How much do you pay to start?
Seven-fifty an hour, says Freya, plus a 25% discount.
Maybe, says Fletcher.
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