Sadie, the soul of the south


Athens, Georgia. I was guest lecturing for semester about neo-classical nano-sculpture. A fluke gig, considering I’m hardly an expert, but it got me and the wife out of Chicago for a winter. We were still in love at that time, but the cracks were starting to appear. My wife was editing an anthology of her brother’s poetry (his chopper was shot down over the Hindu Kush) and spent long hours in the study, going over poem after poem. Me, I took walks, which would inevitably lead me to Sadie.

Sadie co-owned a perpetually deserted café, and could usually be found sitting at a table, reading, unconcerned with her failing business. “Really, it’s daddy’s café,” she once told me, “and he could give a damn if it makes a dime.” She was married to the local public defender, an honest man, I’m told.

Every time I stopped by the café, which was almost every day, she would put her book down and give me this knowing smirk, like she was playing footsie with me at a dinner party. “Well, if it ain’t my favorite professor,” she’d say, in her luscious drawl. We’d usually chat for a couple hours, mostly about books, and then I’d go.

Maybe it was the fact that we had the exact same taste in literature or the fact that we were both stuck in marriages, which should have made us happy, but didn’t. I don’t know what it was. Our love was an unspoken, unconsummated love, but love nonetheless. I’d think about her constantly, pretend I was making love to her when I slept with my wife and dreamed about sitting with her, at her daddy’s café, talking about books. We never said a damn thing about it, but I’m sure she felt the same way; something about that smile gave it away.

When I moved back to Midwest, I couldn’t stop thinking about Sadie’s argument against magical realist literature, “Because, really,” she asked me, “isn’t reality be magical enough?”

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