|In front of an old tenement building, alone, Dorrie huddled
under the kiosk.
It was wet on the street, coming down cold. The first call
reached a wrong number. She dialed again.
Matthew was asleep already, just as she'd thought. He often
fell asleep in bed, still sitting up. Beside him would be a half-
filled snifter of brandy, miraculously unspilled. The snifter of
brandy was his ritual equivalent of a child's cup of steamy cocoa
before bedtime, his comfort cue before letting go. He sounded
distant, gurgly on his end of the phone, like someone inhabiting
another element without any memory of this one, sunken into himself
and far away.
"I called the studio to let them know where your purse was, in
case you went back," he said.
"It's funny the waiter called you though, isn't it?"
"Funny? How come?" His voice was blank.
"Because these days it seems like I'm always losing things."
Her voice slipped out small, almost seductive, like something that
could fall between cracks. She wanted a moment of intimacy with him,
and thought maybe by making fun of herself she might establish it.
He'd teased her that morning about misplacing the Visa bills. She
remembered when she wouldn't have had to explain her sense of humor.
Back then he and Dorrie thought everything everybody else did was
funny--or at least worth commenting on.
"Matthew, let's do something spur-of-the-moment together. Meet
me on the corner of Broadway and Bleecker? That's the Résumé Cafe.
It's a little place where we used to go. It'll be fun to do
something new and spontaneous, like we used to."
"Something old then, you mean. Going backwards. I'm not
dropping into a place that invites credentials. Have you seen the
weather? You're out of your mind if you think I'm going out on a
night like this. I have a big meeting--"
"Matthew, please. I'm standing outside in the weather right
now. Please don't say no to me."
Back in the old days, she used to marvel at every little detail
about Matthew, the deepset eyes, his strangely ridged fingernails,
his carefully composed emergency crisis kit that he kept in each of
the bathrooms, and their lives together.
"Anyway, I just called you because I didn't want you to worry
"Why should I worry about you when you can take care of
She hung up the phone and a sensation she couldn't quite
identify swelled up in her so fast that she felt unwieldy, too big
for her skin which felt foreign, a carapace, and she thought she
heard a crack. She exerted a fierce effort to hold herself down,
down, down. Who was that loving husband about whom she earlier
pretended to be so silently boastful, so misleadingly smug? She
blinked at something tiny and naked crawling away from the phone down
the wet sidewalk.