Until now, not seeing had never been a problem for Marie. Her parents raised her to believe she could have anything a seeing person could. Rather, she could have anything a seeing person found meaningful. She couldn’t drive a car. She probably wouldn’t ever play golf, but who would want to?
She had a satisfying career as a therapist and a perfect marriage. Not just friendship and trust, but love defined her relationship with Hank. Wasn’t love all about trust anyway? It was necessary to trust the other person with your thoughts, or you couldn’t really know whom you were loving.
Marie was adept at cooking. She’d learned to use a gas stove by listening for the delicate changes in the intensity of the gas to gauge the temperature. She knew all her pots and utensils by feel, and although she couldn’t dice an onion as quickly as a seeing person, the result was a much finer pile of onion bits. She knew this because she’d run her fingers through the slick pieces of onion when Hank made dinner, and she’d felt the large chunks of onion on her tongue when they had dinner at their friends’ homes.
Tonight, Terri was coming to dinner, alone. It was her first visit since Brian had been murdered. Marie had never known anyone who was murdered. She tried to talk to Hank about it, tried to ask whether he had the same questions about murder, about death. But Hank wasn’t interested in discussing it. He said she was morbid.
The funeral had been awkward and Marie wasn’t sure why. It was one of those times when she had a heightened awareness of her lack of sight. Perhaps because people weren’t talking much, and there was no way to tell whether or not they were crying. The general silence made her feel excluded. When she offered her condolences to Terri, she hadn’t received a vibe back. Was that caused by her blindness or was it something else? The very fact that she thought it was something else fed her discomfort.
What would they say during dinner? How did you talk about a murdered friend? A deceased husband?
Hank took care of that. The dinner conversation consisted almost exclusively of his mindless chatter. Words tumbled over each other about work, sports, food, a veritable spray of disconnected thoughts flying across the table so that Marie felt the mist of them landing on her face. She could tell he hadn’t eaten anything, could still smell the chicken on his side of the table. Only once or twice did she hear the touch of his fork on the plate.
“Aren’t you hungry?”said Marie.
“Oh, it’s delicious,” said Terri.
“Not really. But it’s great, as always. You’re a fantastic cook, Marie. You know that.”
“I wasn’t fishing for praise. I’m wondering why you’re not eating.”
Hank’s chair scraped away from the table. There was a change in air movement as he stood. “I’ll pour the last of the wine. We can go into the living room where it’s more comfortable.”
Marie heard Terri’s chair push out from the table. Terri’s heels clicked across the wood floor. She’d left the dining room.
“I’ll carry your glass,” said Hank.
“I can carry my own glass.”
“Just trying to help.”
What was wrong with him? Suddenly, it felt as if they were strangers, as if he was treating her with extra care. After all these years, he was too deferential. It must be Terri’s presence, but she didn’t recall him ever behaving this way when Terri and Brian were there together.
In the living room, Marie picked up her glass. She held the stem between her fingers, and sipped the wine.
Terri and Brian sat across from her on the couch. Glasses clinked on the stone coasters.
The scrape of fabric rubbing across the sofa told her it was true. There were fingers touching fingers she couldn’t see, a shifting in the cadence of their breathing. She smelled the increased pungency of Terri’s fruity shampoo. They were sitting thigh to thigh on the couch, assuming she was blind.
© Copyright 2010 Cathryn Grant