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Why did I agree to go to the party? Chi with his hot hands on the small of my back seduced me. Over my head, I slipped on a gold and copper sequined dress.
“Wow, you look delicious,” he said, looking up from his phone.
I blushed and again I asked myself, why go? Tilting his head to one side like a confused puppy, he quizzed me, “You okay?”
“I’m fine … or will be after a drink or two,” I said.
“Babe, I’ll be right there with you. Let’s do it.” He winked, flipped the dog a treat, and drove me to the party.
SHOES OFF read a sign on the door. “Are they serious?” I never enjoyed going barefoot, but complied, held on to his elbow for balance, slipped off my heels, and dropped them next to his flip-flops. With his arm snug around my waist, we walked upstairs to the bar. Ridiculous amounts of tequila took off the edge. But my small bladder soon burned. As if he read my mind, the bartender pointed across the room, where a neon sign flickered PEE HERE NOW. “I’ll be right back,” I said, and headed for relief. Inside the bathroom, fake fur covered every surface, the sink, walls, and floor. I crossed my legs tight until I found the camouflaged toilet lid. Washing up in a fur-lined sink proved impossible. Besides, I wanted to be back at the bar. When I crossed the floor to where we’d stood together, I didn’t see my husband.
The bartender, no longer helpful, told me it wasn’t his turn to watch him. Frustration led to tears that blurred my vision. Disbelief and anxiety blocked my hearing until he answered his phone with a bright, “Hello, love.”
“Where the hell are you?” I asked.
“On a bullet train to Paris,” he said.
“Just like that? Paris? You’re gone?”
“I wasn’t sure how you’d take it.”
“This is how I’d take it. And you have the car keys! What the fuck were you thinking?”
I waited for an answer but heard nothing, no explanation, nada, zip. Our conversation left me hollow. Abandoned by my husband, and for Paris. He’d told me he hated that city. Confused and upset, I needed to leave and looked for a ride. Sequins, no longer sexy, scratched my armpits as I bent over the shoe heap to find my heels. Ambushed by a foul foot odor emanating from the pile, I left shoeless.
Out on the street, I stretched my mouth open as wide as possible and screamed up at the midnight sky until a voice called from the road. My ride had arrived.
“Rough evening?” she asked.
“Unreal,” I said and slumped in the back seat.
An Empath, the driver tried to lighten my mood with a nonstop conversation about floods, fires, and climate change. By the time we reached the house, I’d put my anger on a shelf next to revenge.
Omi greeted me wagging her tail ready for a rub. I let her out back, made a grilled cheese sandwich and watched the weather channel. A ribbon played a newsflash underneath the map of a hurricane’s path: a bullet train to Paris has left the tracks, pointed toward Venus. Could this explain my husband’s behavior and sudden departure? This past week, he’d woke me humming show tunes in his sleep. At dinner, food disappeared in seconds. With a broad swipe of his tongue, he licked the plate clean. Adjusting to married life took time, I told myself.
Two passion-filled months had passed since our marriage began in an elevator. Night and day, we made love and laughed. My bad, I never should have said yes to the party. Our perfect days together ended on that night, without a goodbye, on a bullet train to who knew, to Venus? Both the dog and I continue to mourn our loss and miss the warmth of his hands.
Jo Goren is a writer who has illustrated, raised two children, dairy goats, and honey bees. A nominee for Best of Net 2019. and Best Small Fiction 2019, her writing has appeared in Literary Mama, Thimblelitmag, Toasted Cheese and Inverted Syntax.