“I saw the most beautiful thing yesterday,” she said placing her book in her lap. “Oh?” he replied. “Yes,” she said. He turned his gaze from the copy of the Wall-Street Journal to look across the patio table at her. “What was it?” he asked taking a sip from his gourmet coffee. “Well I was driving through the neighborhood near the mall, you know, to take the shortcut, and I saw a little boy, possibly no more than eight come out of his house and help his mother take in the groceries. And I thought to myself, wouldn’t that have been lovely?” The man took another sip of his premium coffee. Folded his paper in half two times and placed it on the table next to his cup. “I reserved the tickets for Australia last night,” he said. The woman turned her head slowly away from the man and stared across the street. A family reunion was taking place. Two men, presumably brothers, were playing football with their children. The children laughed as they were tackled and thrown into a large pile of leaves, while their mothers fussed about getting their “good” clothes dirty before the family picture. “I don’t think I will be going after all,” she replied. She kept her gaze across the street resting her petite face in the palm of her smooth and slender hand. She squinted below her designer hat that she had worn while working in her garden earlier that morning. “I thought that was your dream? You always said you wanted to go to Australia,” said the man in a calm soft voice. “That’s the problem isn’t it? When did it become you, yours, and I instead us and ours? When was “we” no longer we? When did all of it happen?” she asked turning towards him with blurry and tired blue eyes. She was seeking answers that he simply didn’t have. “We haven’t seen each other in months. I just… I just didn’t know what to do. You wouldn’t even talk to me after it happened.” “We,” she laughed. “You can say “we” for her, but yet when it comes to me or us it is impossible. I suppose I am equal to blame, I haven’t used it in a long time either.” “We can start again Laura,” he said with a small swallow. She stared back across the street at the family who was now lining up for a family picture. Mothers desperately trying to put down the awful cow licks that had now taken up permanent residence in their children’s hair. A man approached the patio. “Hey Nick, would you mind taking a picture for us?” the man asked sincerely. “No problem Mike, no problem at all!” Nick replied. “Your family looks wonderful,” Laura replied, “Are you enjoying having everyone in town?” “Absolutely, you can’t beat a good family reunion I suppose.” “No, I suppose you can’t,” she said back. She marveled at the way her and Nick were able to change their tones and appearances so drastically and with ease. Is this what they had become? ‘We’re nothing more than doppelgangers now’ she thought to herself. She watched Nick cross the street. She watched him make a stupid joke to get the children to smile and laugh. He took several pictures and let Mike inspect them before respectfully declining his invitation to dinner later. “No, we wouldn’t want to intrude,” he would say. ‘Maybe I want to intrude this once,’ Laura once again thought to herself. She saw Nick shake Mike’s hand and begin to cross the street. She placed the book back onto the table, and walked into the house to the rack of wine in the living room. She took the two hundred and fifty dollar bottle of wine off the top rack that they were saving for a special occasion. She struggled with the corkscrew. “Let me help you with that,” Nick said as he entered the room and took one of her hands. She began to cry. No longer in control, she dropped the bottle to the ground, which somehow did not shatter on the brick in front of the fireplace. She fell face first into his right shoulder and he caught her allowing himself to slowly lower them onto the floor next to the fireplace. For the first time in years, Nick allowed himself to let go as he clutched in child-like desperation to what was left of a once wonderful time. Hours later, the crying stifled. They sat staring across at the couch where an old orange Tabby cat, a leftover from the early years, laid on the couch staring at them. The smallest of smiles pierced the lips of Laura. “If it makes you happy, I’ll leave,” Nick finally said. Laura contemplated this as she stared at Fred the cat. ‘I can’t believe I let him name him Fred’ she thought. “No, you can’t leave,” she said softly with a small swallow. “I… I’m sorry Nick, I’m so sorry.” “What are you talking about?” he asked. “I’m the only one who has done anything wrong. It wasn’t your fault Laura. Nothing was your fault. Nothing you did could have prevented it. You have to stop, stop this,” he said turning his head so his brown eyes could look directly into her blue ones. “I know, but I pushed you to what you did. I barely spoke for six months Nick. Six months… Six, long, awful months,” she said choking back a second round of tears. He began to say something but she interrupted him, “Now you stop. Let’s just say it’s our fault and be done with it. Please Nick, this once let it just be ours.” Nick didn’t say anything. He looked at the still unopened bottle of wine. They could still save it for that special occasion. ‘But what exactly was a special occasion?’ he thought. He picked up the bottle, used the corkscrew, and opened it. “Would you like a drink?” he asked her. She nodded with a small smile and the cat began to purr.
© Copyright 2016 K Auble. All rights reserved.