She wrapped the shawl around her cold shoulders and went out into the fog. The yellow street lights made piss poor progress in that wet darkness, but it didn’t matter. She knew her way. “Either he’s there or he isn’t. If he isn’t, I’ll go home. If he is, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
It occurred to her that this was no choice at all.
“Wow,” she thought. “I’ve been pacing the floor this whole evening and THAT’S the best I can come up with?”
She knew herself. She wouldn’t raise her voice. She wouldn’t complain. She wouldn’t drag him home. She wouldn’t lock him out. She wouldn’t do anything, so what was the point of this?
“I saw him at the Purple Breasted Pigeon with Carla,” said her co-worker, Lucy, just two days before. “They were clearly not ‘just friends’ if you get my drift.”
“Why are you telling me?”
“We women have to stick together. It’s us against them.”
“If it’s ‘us against them’ why are we with ‘them’ in the first place?” The thought crossed her mind. She didn’t think of her marriage as an adversarial relationship, just sometimes a crappy one.
“I guess,” she’d said to Lucy. “I don’t know why it’s like that, though.”
“The nature of the beast,” Lucy said, nodding wisely, “the nature of the beast.”
“Beast,” she thought as she made her way through the fog. “Beast,” she said aloud to the empty street. Ahead she could see purple neon reflected on fog. It was a neighborhood bar, after all, and she was almost there. She heard music. She thought of their dating days, hers and Lamont’s, and how often they would go out dancing and how they never did anymore. “What happens to love?” she asked the vague and heavy air. “Maybe it’s the nature of the beast.”
She turned around. There was no reason to go inside looking for her husband and her friend. She would only look foolish, a step down from merely feeling foolish. Soon she was home, a three-story 1950s apartment building near the park. She and Lamont loved it when they first saw it, couldn’t believe their luck. She opened the front door, went upstairs to their apartment and unlocked the door. Lamont stood in the kitchen chopping onions.
“Where have you been, honey? I’ve been worried. Visibility is crap tonight. It took me over an hour to get home from work. There were crashes everywhere. Hey, did Carla tell you the news? I ran into her a couple nights ago when I was passing the Purple. Remember when I couldn’t get any close parking? She and her dude are moving to Oregon! He got that job he wanted. I bought her a drink. Anyway, I thought I’d make us some chili. Sound good?”