Antonio:

Red wine, its hue slightly darker than her lipstick, was still forming pearls on her lips. She looked through me, then ate some more linguine. On the table, bubbles rose from my San Pellegrino as well as from her Prosecco. With every bubble that reached the surface and ceased to exist, my chances of her telling me what I knew to be true, grew smaller and smaller. I had passed from wanting to find proof that she was faithful to simply wanting to find proof of her infidelity. From all satisfactions I could possibly seek, I had thus slowly zeroed in on her guilt. Instead of keeping the option open that nothing had happened, I was now intent on just making her admit what had happened, what I was so very sure had happened, yes, what could not possibly have not happened. She finished her meal at a deliberate pace, then made a gesture meant to tell me to get the check, while she took her handbag and went to the restroom. She was really going to make me pay for this. She already made me pay for that time I said the curtains she chose were ugly, for the time I had disagreed with her on which dog to buy, for all those times. Now she also made me pay for this meal. This meal that seemed to never end, during which not a word was spoken but during which my mind was free to speculate in most vivid detail what had happened the night before, when she had claimed to have to stay at work late. I had time to imagine who she had done it with, where it had happened, how she had ridiculed me in front of her lover, how she had had fun knowing that I was ignorant. I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I was going to yell at her, I was going to make a scene, for once in my life, and leave her with the check. I was going to stand up for myself. I was going to put my interests before hers. How heroic I would be. The colleagues at work would be proud of me for leaving her, instead of making fun of me for being cuckolded. I would be free.

She came back. I paid. I smiled at her, albeit a little sadly, the edges of my mouth not quite reaching the height appropriate for a loving smile. I stood up. We left the restaurant looking like almost any other couple. We probably were.

Eleonora:

He was wearing a tie again to dinner. It made absolutely no sense. I am the one working in an international law firm, but he, an architect mostly working from home, always designing more or less the same house, insists on wearing a tie for dinner. I’ve never liked that. It has always made me feel quite embarrassed. As though he’s not able to handle the fact that his wife earns more money than him, the fact that architecture as an art form is lost on him, the fact that there is really no reason why I should be with him. Still, he’s quirky, he’s excentric. I like that. Today he is unusually quiet though. He keeps looking at me with what is, if I were not over-interpreting him and if I didn’t know any better, I would say, disdain. As if I had done something wrong. I know for a fact that I haven’t. I have always been faithful, I got him the watch he wanted for his birthday, I always let him choose the movies we watch and the food we order. No. He must just have a bad day. He is never one to really talk a lot. He probably doesn’t feel the need, that so many of us have, to communicate his frustrations. He’s fidgeting with his tie now, does he have something to hide? Some thought must be suffocating him. I’d better go to the bathroom and leave him some space. When I come back, I’ll pay for the meal. Maybe he’ll see it as a nice gesture and that will brighten his day just a little.

He’s already paid. As always. He just doesn’t give me the chance to show him I love him. Not with words, not with deeds. I don’t know if he even wants to be loved. The way he smiles at me, so half-heartedly, makes me afraid. Does he want to leave me? Did he cheat on me?

Oh God, the wheels start turning in my head. How can I sleep in the same bed as him tonight? If only he would talk…

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