Jim Woessner – Innocent


It started as a wrong number, a chance encounter, totally innocent. A woman telephoned and asked for Joan. My ex-wife is named Joan, so I naturally assumed… But when I explained that Joan no longer lived here, the caller said she was looking for a different Joan. I told her I understood. For years I had been looking for a different Joan myself. She laughed. I laughed. She explained that her Joan was an old girlfriend with whom she hadn’t talked in a long time. She said she was trying to reconnect. I was sympathetic. I told her I had numerous friends with whom I’d lost touch.

That’s how it started. A conversation about relationships, the difficulties of staying connected, and how much the world had changed. She seemed sweet, funny, a warm personality. And she had one of those sultry I-used-to-smoke voices. I have to say, it felt good to laugh. And like I said, it was totally innocent.

She mentioned something about the weather. I don’t remember what exactly. But whatever it was, it sounded as if she might live nearby. It turned out she lived just up the hill. If we had been outside, we could have waved to each other. She talked about how much she loved living in the Bay Area. Me too, I said. I suggested we continue the conversation over coffee. I was surprised when she said yes. Interesting how one thing leads to another. Isn’t that what they say?

Over coffee we talked about… well… about everything. One thing I didn’t mention was my current wife of four years. Was that a lie? It didn’t seem to matter at the time. Not at first. Though I must admit it was a bit more awkward when Katrina and I met for coffee the second time. And afterwards went for a long walk in the headlands above the Golden Gate Bridge. It was midmorning. The fog was cascading down the coastal hills like a glacial waterfall. One of those dramatic, one might even say romantic, mornings that we often have here. And like I said, it was totally innocent… until it wasn’t.



Jim Woessner works as a visual artist and writer living on the water in Sausalito, California. He has an MFA from Bennington College and has had poetry and prose published in numerous online and print magazines, including the Blue Collar ReviewCalifornia QuarterlyClose to the BonePotato Soup JournalUnbroken Journal, and Ariel Chart. Additionally, two of his plays have been produced in community theatre.

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