‘We’ll Both Feel Better’ by Dylan Nice

A young man. A young woman. An airport, then Australia. ‘We’ll Both Feel Better’ is a sentimental evocation of ‘The End of Something’ — it is set almost a century later, yet it shares much the same spirit — and it pulls the neat trick of giving the young man a genuine chance to make amends but having him screw it up a second time. Here, the two characters have flown from their homes in the United States to Brisbane, Australia, to study abroad. “She moved and talked in ways that made me feel smaller than I was,” the young man says of his companion, with whom he is not quite in a relationship. “I told her embarrassing things about myself. I thought saying them made them less true.” At the end of one embarrassing story, he makes a self-deprecating admission: “I was clueless.” The young woman’s response — not spoken seriously — is: “You still are.” The young man stews on it and then decides to admonish her. “The rest of the trip I’d prefer not to be condescended to,” he says. But he is the condescending one, and he knows it, even if he’ll never admit it — and even if, at the end, he ends up destroying their relationship by refusing to acknowledge, in words, that he was in the wrong.

from Other Kinds, Short Flight/Long Drive 2013