Monday, April 2, 2012

Isolate Beauty, pt. VIII

    The door was locked.
    Why would Jason would lock the door while he was home?
    Maybe he was taking a nap. But why? How could he be tired? Lazy man! Oh well, Marianne mused, more’s the fun in waking him!
    She let herself in. The whole house was dark. She put down her bags, took off her coat and hung it on a chair.
    The first steps on the tile were loud and telling. Her heels clicked sharply, unlike any sound her regular, more comfortable shoes had ever made. Her spine tingled with energy and excitement. She could get used to this!
    Down the hall she paced, feeling like a tiger about to discover prey. The wispy nylons clasped to her black garter straps rubbed between her legs when she moved. As she breathed, her chest swelled behind the satiny teddy wrapped around her body. Marianne suddenly became eager, quickening the pace.
    The noise of her footsteps was loud. She reached the bedroom...
    ...but saw the covers undisturbed.
    Where was he? Was he out?
    Bad timing.
    Or... maybe he was just out on the porch...

*       *       *

    Marianne’s footsteps were as the ticks of a time bomb in Jason’s ears. He could hear her all around the house, and he knew it was her walking around inside. Something like paralysis had committed him to the seat of a plastic chair. He felt ridiculous. He was helpless.
    Julia failed to offer some good advice or an encouraging word. She sat just as still, just as fearful of the events waiting to unfold.
    The footsteps stopped just behind the door.
    The knob rattled, then turned.

*       *       *

    Marianne looked at Jason.
    She saw Julia.
    One second, she only saw her husband. The next second, there was a woman. The blink of an eye changed perspectives, but failed to reconcile the images as one.
    In a moment, during which nobody moved, intuitiveness caught up with Marianne’s racing train of thought.
    “Jason?” she managed to exhale, stupefied.
    “...uh... hi...” said Jason, with a half wave.
    “What are you...?” Marianne stared at him, up and down. “You’re... um... so, what are you... doing out here?”
    Jason gulped, suddenly very dry-mouthed.
    “I think I’d like to answer that question... but... I don’t know... how?”
    “Hmm,” Marianne acknowledged.

    They stared at each other some more. Then Jason finally noticed something besides his wife's disconcerted expression.
    “Mari, what are you wearing?”
    “Shouldn’t that be my question?” she countered.
    He looked down, finally rid of the numbness, only now it was being replaced with warm humiliation. His bright red toes winked back up from the ground.
    “What are you wearing, Jason?”
    He could hear the anger in her voice, but was even more afraid to remain silent. What could he say?
    “N-Nothing as nice as what you have on, I can assure you.”
    Not good enough.
    “Oh? You like this? Well maybe you can try it on when I‘m done, would you like that?!”
    “Well, no, Mari...”
    “Well why not? It’s not your style? Oh God, tell me you don't have a sense of fashion all of a sudden? Is what I’m wearing not 'in' this season in Paris? Well, I’m sorry, Jason, I thought this was perfectly acceptable to wear home for you, because I thought you’d like a little company, sitting here all by your lonesome self.  Last time I checked, you like it when women strap on all of... this...” she gestured frantically around herself. “I mean, don’t you? Am I wrong?
    “No, Mari...”
    “Am I stupid for expecting... what, exactly? Expecting what? I don’t even know what to think! Could you please tell me what to think of this, Jason? Because I had a completely different idea about... our marriage... I felt really sexy wearing this for you, only... am I just a really stupid woman or WHAT?”
    “If you ‘No, Mari’ me one more time I swear you’ll lose the one thing you have that draws any distinction between what you look like right now and what you really are! Jason, you give me an answer!!
    The first of the long night’s tears spilled down Marianne’s cheek. Jason remained seated, only trembling as he watched. She closed her eyes. Though too terrified to be aroused, he saw how beautiful and exotic she had taken the time to become. Guilt seized his heart, though it also ached to even begin thinking how to tell her about everything that led to this moment.
    “I love you,” he said softly. “There’s no question about that.”
    Marianne looked at him. She leaned, weakened, against the door frame. The birds were quieter as the afternoon went on in spite of this unforeseen conflict. Their music contributed to the burgeoning surreality of recent events. Shellshock had set in.
    “Okay,” she said at last, continuing to watch him from the door, unable to decide what to do next. She believed that a sort of initial forgiveness was possible, but the unmistakable conflicts seemed impossible to approach. They would also be difficult to ignore.
    Neither one of them could help usher out the awkwardness.
    “Jason... why...? Why this?” She waved up and down at him, trying to communicate what words failed to.
    “It’s somewhat ironic,” said Jason, trying to smile, “and maybe unbelievable, but today I was actually thinking about how this could possibly go on without you knowing.”
    “Did you plan this?”
    “No, Mari. It was an accident. Purely accident.”
    Marianne’s eyes closed. Jason felt the same chill he felt only moments ago drifting past his exposed thighs, through the gaps in his pullover.
    “I guess I should go change,” he said weakly.
    “No, no,” Marianne said absently. “That’s alright."  She groped around for some optimism, found her grip, and tried not to let go. "I have some more questions. And this is probably the best way to face them. We’re both pretty vulnerable, and we’re both pretty... um, pretty."
    Marianne let out a breath that sounded like laughter, only without the vital element of sanity.
    "I would rather... I want to know about this, uh... this side of you. Only I can’t do it without some wine.”
    “Okay,” Jason nodded. He got to his feet and followed his wife inside. She poured them each a glass and left out the bottle.

    “A toast,” Marianne said, raising a glass. She looked expectantly at her decidedly feminine husband, who hastily followed her lead. “To smoothing out the new waves in our quiet little pond.”
    She smiled with a certain deliberate craziness, then drained her glass, poured another round to herself, and tried to prepare for the long night ahead.

~ End


  1. I loved this story! I know exactly how it feels!

    1. Thanks! It was sitting in the ol' mini-fiction repository for years. Yours is the first praise it's ever known!