Play Nice

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Patricia

Briefly

[This is where the summary would go if I'd bothered to write one.]

« Week 14Cowboys, Indians & Morticians »
Bruised

She winces as I kiss her cheek. I linger, my lips brushing softly against the bruised skin. I believe I can feel the colors on my lips, but I know this is just foolish thinking. I want to hug her but fear hurting her further.

I watch as she takes a seat. I sense that she knows I’m watching. Her right shoulder is slightly lower than her left. The hair she usually wears pulled away from her face now falls softly across her left cheek. If I didn’t know what to look for perhaps I’d miss the subtle variations in her makeup. But I do know and I can see that she’s used concealer, her foundation is slightly heavier.

“Please stop,” she tells me.

“We need to talk about this,” I reply.

“Not right now.”

“When?”

“I don’t know. Later. Just please stop it!”

Despite the urgency and slight tremor in her voice, I imagine that I see a defiant gleam in her eyes. I nod.

There’s still time, I think to myself. A crowded restaurant during lunch hour is not the time to discuss the problem.

“Anita is running a little late. She’ll be another ten or so.”

She doesn’t look up from the menu as she asks, “Should we order or do we wait?”

“If you’re fine waiting I’d rather do that.”

“Ok. I’m not very hungry anyway. I think I’ll just have the house salad.”

This light patter was quite possibly going to drive me mad, but I force myself to play along. Making her angry would only give her the perfect excuse to avoid talking to me later on.

“It’s hot in here, don’t you think? You must be really hot in that sweater. It is very pretty though. Is it new? You should take it off. That way I can steal it from you.”

“I’m fine,” she says.

I look up from my menu and stare at the top of her head. Despite announcing that she was only having the house salad she was still studying the menu, a menu that hadn’t changed once in the six years we’d been coming to this restaurant.

I study the set of her shoulders once again, wondering where the damage has been done.

I put my menu down, lining it up neatly with the edges of the table. As I ask her about her day, I unfold the teal linen napkin and place it squarely on my lap, using both hands to smooth the thin material over my thighs.

It’s very important that I focus on the details because, suddenly, I have the overwhelming need to cry.

As I raise the sweating glass of water to my lips she looks up. We stare silently at each other for a long moment after which she hands me her menu. Our hands briefly touch as we make the exchange. The coolness of her fingertips triggers a quick, almost inaudible sob to escape from my lips. I slowly stack her menu on top of mine, taking a few extra seconds to make sure that it, too, is lined up perfectly with the edges of the table.

Once I’m done she reaches for my hand and as we lace our fingers together, she quietly says, “It’s over. Please believe me.”

I nod and give her a quick smile. She reads the disbelief in my eyes so she gives my hand a squeeze before she lets it go.

“It is over,” she tells me again.

I watch her lips as she forms the words. Underneath the expertly applied lipstick I can see a new cut. Despite that, I actually believe her. Or is it that I want to believe her?

“You know what? I think I’ll go for something heavier after all. What are you having?”

“The salmon.”

“Perfect! I’ll have that as well. And now I’m starving. I say we order now and Anita can catch up.”

“Okay.”

With her right hand she motions for the waiter, wincing slightly with every movement. When he arrives she orders for the both of us. I watch as she flirts shamelessly with him and I’m reminded of the friend that I used to know so well.

I know that it is all a show, one designed to make me believe that she will follow through on her words. I also know that I can’t let this drop, but for now, this moment, I join in on their laughter. There will be time later for the tough decisions.

Published 05/15/03 in Writing • | Views: 2438 times | Print

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