“I do see what I am doing, darling. I promise,” she ironed out the white linen tablecloth with her soft hands.
The woman and the man were at the good restaurant on top of the hill. The building was a restored farmhouse. There was a pile of cold, pregnant pumpkins outside and electric candles in the windows and very heavy white dinner plates. She was a doctor and he owned a business but they were still both young.
“It’s not as though I am having an affair,” she said.
But it was, actually, exactly like that, he thought—tipped the vodka soaked ice from the bottom of the square heavy glass towards his mouth, crunched the ice and thought. When the bottle of wine came she still had her vodka.
“You’re stuck in this spot. You just need to shake out of it.” The woman opened her mouth slightly, released a puff of air and then drew her lips back. She touched her lips with a finger and then rested her chin on the back of her hand. She looked out the window—it was frosted and the thick pains were the color of cream.
“I’ve been everywhere,” she said. “I remember,” she went on, “the first time I felt indifferent. I was sitting on a pile of ruins in Scotland with fine company. And nothing, nothing. It should have been everything. “Thing is, I don’t want to leave my job. I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want to go off somewhere. But just the same—just the exact same— I don’t want to stay at my job. I don’t want to stay with you. I don’t want to stay here.”
He took a sip of wine. “What a great, big privilege to feel this way!” She laughed. The waiter put down the oysters. The man took one and looked at it first. She leaned in. Her breasts were pushed up against the table. Her eyes were wide.
“It’s like this great, big impolite secret that life is boring.”
He swallowed the oyster.
“Do you think of my feelings? When you talk like this. Do you ever think of how this makes me feel?” He took another sip of wine. Faced the window quickly then turned back to her. “You are saying awful things,” he said. “I think you are saying some very awful things.” He was wiping his hands with the cloth napkin.
“It’s all nothing,” she said and waved a hand in the air as if she were fanning out cigarette smoke. “It’s all a great, big nothing. “Maybe this happens to everyone. Maybe it’s just another big secret. It happens to everyone and that’s why everyone lets themselves die.”
“I don’t know what you need. Maybe you ought to go somewhere for a while. Or to your parents house.”
“If I couldn’t see what I was doing here, darling, I’d be frightened. If I didn’t understand. But my love, my love you have to begin to understand me—there is nothing and I don’t care.
“I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care—I promise. So it’s all right. Can’t you see that?
“Don’t, don’t do that, please—”
The man had covered his face with his cracked, bouldery hands. She watched his shoulders tumble forward like a wave breaking. When his chest reached the table he pulled himself back up—like a wave going back, she reaffirmed.
She thought, fine, tonight she’d just cheat it and drink until she was happy again.