New World Symphony: White Paper and Cardboard

“Do you like the tofu dogs?” Brennan asked when they went back to his place.

“I’m sure they’re nutritious,” Cathy said. They tasted like white paper and mustard wrapped in cardboard.


Inside and outside, Brennan’s house was mostly white.

“How do you like it here?” He asked. It was her first visit.

“It’s very bright,” she said. “Antiseptic, too.”

He laughed. She thought quickly about the shamrock spider who had spun her web in the corner of her bay window. Surely, no spiders lived in Brennan’s house.

“I like it clean,” he said, laughing. “Do you?”


“Oh, you have an easel!” Cathy said, when she spied the corner of the study. “And oils, too!”

“I bought them for you,” he said. “Are they any good?”

“Oh, yes!” she replied. “I love Windsor and Newton. Thanks, Bren.”

She spent the evening at the canvas while the music from the cartoons rolled in from the den, where Brennan napped on the couch.


In the days after their engagement, Cathy and Brennan weren’t all that romantic with each other, but they were a lot of fun.


One evening during a dance party at a grand estate, as they emerged from a thicket of fun, Wade greeted them.

“Hey,” Wade said. “Jaclyn said I might find you two over here. By the bush.”


Wade looked sleepy, or bored, or sad. He didn’t look like Wade, Cathy thought.


“Don’t mind us,” she said. “We were just, you know, over here for a while.”

“Nah, it’s not me,” said Wade. “I don’t care where you guys are or what you’re up to. Seriously. It’s Jaclyn. She sent me out to find you.”

“Oh,” said Cathy, “how about we be sure to swing by the party and say hey to her before we leave, ok?”


“Because it wouldn’t be a party without us, right, my sparkle of light?” said Brennan.

Wade simply sipped his drink and watched.


“I heard you two got engaged,” he said to Brennan. “Congratulations, I guess.”

“Tell you what,” said Cathy. “I’m heading over to the party. I’ll find Jaclyn and see what she wants. Meet you guys over there later!”


As she walked off, she heard Wade ask, “When’s the date?”

“We haven’t set it,” said Brennan. “Why rush happiness?”

“Oh, God,” Wade groaned. “You’re really going through with it, aren’t you?”


She felt relieved as soon as she left them. Something about Wade’s eyes and Brennan’s grin wasn’t sitting right with her. It was as if the sadder Wade became, the happier Brennan felt. But that couldn’t be, could it?

Who would take joy in another person’s pain?

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