Give It All You’ve Got by E.Y. Smith

Let’s get moving with a little small talk. Fun and simple. You’re discussing the weather, laughing softly, in the pauses. Don’t give in! Keep going! As we talk, our conversations will grow more and more complex. In these first little chats, our minds are opening up to talking to each other again. Following this, we might have a full-out conversation!

Once we’re off the weather, and on to, say, seasonal allergies or restaurants, and you can feel your spirits rising, hold. Three, four. Super job! Let’s chill for twenty seconds. Don’t turn off your brain though! Hold on! Think about friendships, what your life would be like if we talked regularly. At most, you can tell a joke or reminisce a little about how things were before.

Let’s go! Next, ask me about what I’m doing. At the very least, ask about what’s new since we’ve talked. If you’re not really quick, you can at least nod and smile to act like you’re listening. Fifteen seconds on the clock. Five, four, three, two, one. Amazing job! Give me a compliment! Once more! I’m flattered. Talk about you. I’m opening up to you. Make eye contact. Eye contact—! Great job. One more time. Amazing!

One, two, three, and four. Tell me about your new job. All the deets. All the waits for the copier. All the incessant complaints you handle about the latest shipment. Talk through it fast. But not too fast. Don’t want you to get tired. Come on. Take me through the hierarchy of your daily mundanities. Tell a joke. Hold the pause. Hold it.


Five, six, seven. Come on, come on. We’re talking about university. Good for us! Talk about our first days together. Take it to the party. Take it back, and turn it into an emotional beat. The present. Back. Five, six, seven. Mention our first date. State it loud. Don’t be shy. Two, three, four. Glance at me. Five, six, seven. Say it again. I don’t think I heard you! Get into it now, nice and strong. Keep breathing. Let’s go. Come on, reach out. Look at the city. Then me. Then the city. Then me. Not too shabby!

Open up! Now make me laugh. Oh, wow, the first formal again. Back to the fraternity. Back to us again. Back to the fraternity. Back to us again. You can keep going. Touch my back now! Talk about the city again. Don’t mention him. Don’t mention him—!


All right, let’s go! Lift these spirits! Give me a little smile, bring it in. Reach out. Brush that hand. Then back. Now brush again. Then back. Then brush, then hold. Look up. Meet my gaze right now. One, two, three, four. Release. WOW! All right. You’re gonna delve a little deeper now. Okay, ask about my life, then glance, then say you cared, then look. Now, bring him up. We gotta talk about him. Do your best. Make a comment. Keep it neutral! Two, three, four, and laugh. Two, three, not meanly though! You’re relatable!

Three dialogues, here we go!

“He was right.”

“You’re better than him.”

“I don’t know about that, but thank you anyway.”

Guess what? It’s arm-around-my-shoulder time! Aw, we’ll be together before you know it. Keep it up! Ha-ha-ha! Great, great job! Keep on! That was magnificent!

Okay, you ready for this? You gotta be strong. You ready? You sure? Here it comes!

“It’s just—”

Keep strong!

“You know—”

Keep going! Push past the tears. Pump it up! And breathe. Wipe my eyes. Wipe them! And lift. Lift my face toward yours. Ask what’s wrong. Huge kisses. Hugs. Compliments. And kisses. Hugs. Compliments. Again! Keep that tone strong. And more. Acknowledge that he didn’t deserve to go that way. Sympathy. Again. Sympathy. Sympathy. You’re nicer than him. Kisses. You’re nicer. Hugs! Give me your comfort. That’s right. Be nice. Four, four. Be nice now.

Keep pushing. You’re almost there. We’re cooling down. Hug me. Pull away. And hug. And hold. And look at me. And hold. And look at me. Hold. Look at me and cry. Cry. Hold. Kiss. And kiss. And sigh. And apologize. Look away. Calm and deep. Lean against me. Cry a little, and think, and brush my hair. Again! Cry a little, and think, and brush my hair. Face me, and kiss my face, and apologize, and breathe. And apologize. And breathe. Sigh. Tell me you miss him. Give it all you’ve got. Never give it any less. We’re all we have in this world.

Great job!




E. Y. Smith‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Thoughtful Dog, The East Bay Review, Portland Review, and The Brooklyn Review.



(Front page image via)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *