The guy said, Fantastic! Over the phone.
Fantastic! Fantastic! He said rubbing his palms
together in glee. A radiant guy. Who had won-
just won- a publishing contract for a book of his
erudite economic essays; his first. Fantastic!,
unwittingly he said to his caller- by the sound of her
voice a demure lady from the publisher’s office.
The demure lady herself was fantastic. Polite and
happy to help. She explained the draft in detail.
Not that the essayist guy heard anything. Fantastic!
Fantastic! He kept repeating showing clearly
he didn’t know what else to say.

The lady said she too once studied Econ. A long time
ago. Far past than he could count the years with his
fingers, she laughed. Her professor, Professor Bhalerao
had been strict. Had taught her a marginal cost thing
which had not been so bad, but, Mrs. Surekha Patil’s
lectures on behavioral economics had been fantastic-
and the theory of games?- she rushed- the prisoner’s
dilemma and all?- kind of fun! She laughed again.
Indeed, she had read all the essays by our essayist-
the whole book!- despite her ignorance and lack of
time after a job, and being a mother of an autistic son.
But. Truly. He wrote well.

Thereafter the conversation was over. For the guy kept
mum. The lady stood on her toes, the heels by the
wayside- waiting- the phone in her hand turning warm.
She flushed. The world turning down on her: happiness,
doubtful. Unknownst to her a tall tree had taken root in the
essayist’s room. Splaying branches into the future- its
fickle round leaves of probabilities swayed- the ripe yellow
fruits of payoffs were hanging at the end. He said, I don’t know
how to say it, but, you are lovely. Will you go out with me?
The lady laughed. Nervously mentioning a bottleneck.
The guy said, Listen, I have calculated.
You, me, and your son, together. We will be fantastic!