As It Is
The door closes and the round mirror holds her image a moment before she turns away. She looks over the room he has just left. She gets her black suitcase from the closet and puts it on the bed, and begins to pack. She bites her lip.
Well now, she thinks—that is done—
Her hands tremble as she moves the clothes from the drawer to the suitcase.
—and I am glad that it is over.
Outside, he gets into his car and turns the key. The car powers to life. What should I do now, he thinks; what should I do where should I go.
Upstairs, inside, the phone interrupts her. She picks it up.
She holds the phone to her ear, but there is no one there. It’s funny how phone calls come like that sometimes. They click hanging up. It is just as well. Listening is impossible; she hangs up and resumes her packing. Two tickets are lying on top of the dresser. They were to have gone together but now that’s just a ridiculous memory. She thinks what to do with the extra ticket. She takes it and tears it up and throws it in the trash can. One ticket means one person. There is no turning back. She resumes packing.
Outside, in the car he thinks he should have brought his ticket down with him and he half-thinks to go up to get it, but no, that would mean seeing her again. He is done seeing her; he never can see her again. The car backs out of the lot and he drives off into the dark. The street lamps on the poles cast down circular beams of overlapping brightness into the night. It is late and the streets are deserted. Headlights appear in the distance and approach. The black car pulls up before the apartment building’s door. It sits idling. Waiting.
She closes her suitcase and puts on her coat. It is cool outside; not cold, but cool. She leaves the room after looking in the mirror again and turning off the light. Outside, she gets into the waiting car. It leaves. It turns off onto the ramp to the Interstate and in a moment is up to seventy, eighty; she sits in the back seat reveling in the speed of it. She reaches two fingers into her purse and the ticket is there. Her ticket.
He drives randomly. He passes Steck’s bar—then Solly’s—then Mijo’s. He wants a drink badly, but is in no mood for company. He cannot speak to anyone tonight. He will go home to drink. It is twelve-thirty.
She is nearing the airport. The black car pulls up the departing flights ramp. The driver helps her with her bag and briskly she walks toward the revolving door of the terminal building after having tipped him, and he drives away. She goes through security—there is hardly anyone there. She goes to the gate; the red-eye flight to Newark is boarding. She has just made it; thank God she had not spent too much time with him before. Thank God it had been quick, and easy.
He gets home and goes in. He takes off his jacket, throws it on the couch, and rips off his tie. The vodka comes down from the shelf. It pours into the glass. It is pure, clear, and honest. He looks through the bottle; everything is distorted. He puts down the bottle and picks up the glass.
She boards the plane after checking her bag at the gate. She enters, finds her seat in first class, sits, wipes her hand down her cheek and after they have rolled and are in flight, she asks the attendant for a drink.
Vodka, she says.
He takes his glass into the living room. He sits in his chair. He drinks one, then another.
She drinks; one, two. She puts her glass in the holder.
Their hands reach out gripping the chair arms as the liquor does its work. With eyes closed, they squeeze the chair arms; it feels as if they are sitting side by side, hands clasped together, as they used to; as if that were not now forever impossible; impossible, as it is.
Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Collier's Magazine, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Two collections of his short work have been published and his novels, "Claire","Monkey", and "Freddie Mason's Wake" are available from Amazon.