A crow cawed outside. Edgar barely noticed. Seconds later, a car engine stopped in the driveway. Edgar lowered the newspaper, peered over his reading glasses, then glanced at the clock. He watched Alice step out of their Toyota, and the vehicle lights flash on and off as the doors locked. He listened to the key turn in the front door, then the click-clack of her footsteps down the tiled entry hall to the den. When she stopped in the doorway, he raised his eyebrows in a silent question.
“I didn’t even realize I’d said anything out loud,” Alice gesticulated, her voice high and tight. “I was just thinking to myself, how could anyone in their right mind possibly think that this is all right. I mean, really,” her voice trailed off as her hands fell to her sides. “And then, of course, I realized I had. I had just said those words aloud. Because, you know, they were just sitting there, eating their two hundred dollar lunch, I had to sign for it, so I saw the bill, with that young glamour queen who’s replacing Helen and doesn’t look old enough to be out on her own after 10pm.”
“Wait a second. Back up. What happened?” Edgar took off his reading glasses and laid them on the table beside him. He realized from the sore stiffness of his arm how tense he’d become. No surprise, given the fact his wife was home from work three hours early, talking incoherently and looking as if all the blood had been drained from her face.
“I’m sorry.” Her voice trembled.
“Sorry?” It was hard to get the syllables out of his suddenly dry mouth, they sounded harsher than he’d intended. He searched his wife’s face, hoping to find a clue that would explain away the sudden hot tightness in his chest and the pit of his gut. He recognized fear and felt ashamed.
Alice looked away, her mouth a thin, pale line. She stood stiffly erect, hands in her coat pockets.
He cleared his throat to try again. “Are you okay?”
She responded with a clipped, “Yes,” then, “No,” shaking her head.