Points in Favour of Empathy

The basket was laden with ripe fruit, and Jenny took an apple to munch on while he talked. He liked to talk about himself, she thought. Now and then an odd kind of look would swim across his features,  and she wondered if he might be considering what she was saying, but his face would always slacken again and he would resume staring slightly down, almost a child, the makings of a frown about his forehead. She sat on the great unyielding couch, draped in a bright blanket which was thin enough that she could feel the seams of the sofa cushions beneath her. It was a little cold and she was in a heavy jumper, borrowed from him. She had but resolved to endure discomfort.

He spoke and looked past her through the window behind, shifting his gaze to meet hers when he remembered to. His job, he insisted, was the reason that he could not get anything really important done. She nodded mutely, actually considered his thought for a moment. If, she wondered, he could quit his job and still afford it, would he really get the money he wanted? The fulfilment he wanted? She suspected that he only grasped at the idea of fulfilment to medicate his present discontent, she was not without sympathy. She had, in her time, learnt pity.

He stretched out his legs, recrossed them. His monologue, so earnestly begun, was faltering to a close. He would inwardly seethe now, reaching desperately for the right words but not quite finding them. She bit the crisp flesh gratefully and felt the apple’s juice on her lips. Her ride was almost here.