“Is that a new rug?”
I can always count on Denise to notice when anything changes. This one was rather obvious, but I’ve tested it. I had Maurice, my saintly hair stylist of fifteen years, make the hair cascading down my back shorter by exactly 1/16th of an inch (he’d demanded a rather exorbitant tip for that service, the cheeky bastard).
It took Denise less than two minutes to comment on it. Would’ve been even faster if I’d turned around sooner.
“Actually it’s very old,” I say as I usher them toward the kitchen. “It got stuffed into a dusty corner of the attic when David and I shacked up together. He hated the poor thing from the moment he first saw it in my living room. I’ve often wondered if he asked me to move in just to get rid of it!”
“Oh Cassie,” Eric says with that sigh of his that makes me suspect he’s struggling to repress his homosexuality. “Don’t be silly. Where is David anyway?”
“He won’t be joining us tonight.” I was going to finish that with unfortunately but it felt too fake. I can‘t do anything to rouse their suspicion already - hell, I haven‘t even figured out what I‘ll do after they go home. “He got cut up and forgot all about our date.”
“What’s he caught up with this time?”
“Oh, you know, the usual. Himself, mostly.”
Along with a whole chicken, some frozen leftovers, two packages of ground beef…
“That’s a shame,” Denise says, sounding like she means it about as much as I would. She perches on a stool at the kitchen island and pours herself a generous glass of rather expensive Merlot. David would never have served that to guests. “Oh well, more food and booze for us!”
“That’s my lovely wife,” Eric says with a strained smile. “Always discovering the bright side of even the bleakest situations.”
This occasion hardly fits that description and we all know it.
If David was here - well, here and alive - he’d already have said something to offend Denise. The only question would’ve been if it was on purpose or just another ignorant accident.
And the roasted chicken, the poster child for tender perfection, cooling on the counter? He wouldn’t have freed it from its Thermador cage until it was drier than Death’s shin bone.
“Jesus Cassie, we wouldn’t want to poison our guests with raw meat, now would we?” Then he’d laugh, grab his crotch, and add, “Unless it’s my raw meat, of course!”
Then I’d have to remind him that Julia and Amanda, our token lesbian friends, were not the guests of honour tonight. Maybe toss in a crack about him and Eric as well, but only if I was feeling extra bitchy.
Words. Those had been my weapons of choice. But where had they ever gotten me? Or, more to the point, gotten David? I think it’s safe to say he was not in any danger of changing.
Well, that’s not true. It is Saturday, after all, which means he was due to change his underwear tomorrow.
But listen to me. The way I’m talking about David you’d think I’d have thrown a party when he dumped my ass like a bag of garbage at the curb (as if he ever took the damned garbage out).
Sure, by the end I hated him from the tips of his overgrown toenails to the top of his thick skull. Every word that escaped his lips was like nails on a chalkboard to my delicate ears. And the way he excavated dirt out from underneath his fingernails at the dinner table…
But none of that came to mind when I switched the knife from dice to slice. No, it was all that wasted promise and potential. The life we’d never have together. The shattering glass of a fragile dream that had somehow survived up until that very moment.
You see, David and I weren’t always this way.
“Is that a new rug?”