||When she returned to the hot cafe and Jennifer's urgency, Dorrie
announced Matthew's flu bug was getting the better of him, and that
she had to go.
Dorrie left a big tip and she and Jennifer split the bill.
Jennifer seemed to be afloat in the air. "It's so beautiful
out. Look, can you see all the rainbow halos from the moisture under
the street lamps? This was a good conversation for me, it helped."
They flagged a cab. It splashed Dorrie when it came to a stop.
She decided to walk home anyway since she and Jennifer were traveling
in opposite directions. The sleet blew into her face. Strange, the
slicing moisture felt good. She took off her blurring glasses. Now
she could barely see. What would she say to Stan the next time she
called Jennifer if he picked up the phone? Crazy to worry about it,
but she didn't want to get caught in the middle. Stan could distort
her noncommittal responses, interpret them for or against.
A glum disappointment clung, despite the wind. But she wasn't
disappointed in Bryant. She laughed out loud, open-mouthed, at the
fact that he, a good dentist all right with a soupcon of charm but a
bit of a fool, was the only person tonight who hadn't let her down.
The wind blew against her teeth. She pictured Bryant in the room in
which their narrow controlled relationship took place. She couldn't
picture him outside it, she realized, not even with Jennifer.
She chose a new route home, a route down side streets, dark
brick-canyoned ones where she passed an obsolete-looking diner and a
rug warehouse with a gleaming showcase that she'd never seen before.
Then she saw strangers laughing, slinging their arms around each
other, clumping out of a movie complex. Where was she now?
Everything looked odd and looming without her glasses in the storm.
But being lost didn't feel unnatural or scary, or like she was in the
wrong place. For all she knew, the way life changed anyway without
warning despite her best efforts--skin, teeth, marriage, friends--
this place she didn't recognize might be her home now even though she
couldn't read the street signs.