"I don't find you particularly attractive," says the man.
"And I think your wit is vapid," is the woman's reply, "and your posture is embarrassing."
At least they are in agreement. At least there will not be a pitiful show of unrequited affection. At least, at the very least, their lifeless conversation has provided carbon dioxide to feed the balding conifer trees which surround them here in this romantic park of all parks, John Muir. It is a January afternoon, a Saturday. The noise of the freeway drones on beyond the tree line. That freeway never rests, bringing desperate winter travelers from one point to another. It brought them both here today, and soon it will take them off in opposite directions. It will be a relief for everyone, even those who never knew them. It will be a relief for you, if you can believe that. Can you believe that? Are you able to believe such a thing?
It is not a break-up, this exchange of callous, calculated words, and neither is it a chance meeting, a slightly obscured "How do you do?".
"How do you do it?" asks the man.
The woman would smile if she had any lips, if she had a heart. She has a hand, and with a violent motion she shakes it in such a way that a leather glove falls off of it and lands on the snow between them.
"How do you do it?" the man repeats. Demands, "Tell me."
With a shake of her other hand another glove is flung from her and rests inches from the first. On each of her fingers on both of her hands is a large diamond ring, each with a different setting, each a different size. She takes them off, one by one, and puts them in her mouth. One by one she swallows them. The man watches with tears in his eyes. They are both crying now, but for very different reasons.
"So long, you," says the woman, once she has swallowed the last of the diamond rings. She leaves her leather gloves where they are lying, turns, walks away. She has not answered his question and never will.