(My site was down last night due to a server error, so two posts today!)
They thought that she didn’t know but she had seen it in their eyes long before they had acknowledged it. She could have predicted the whole tawdry thing. The pretense at trying to avoid each other, the attempts not to touch, the plan to keep it platonic, the ‘accidental’ progression, the one thing leading to another. It would have been funny if it weren’t so sad. Sad and painful.
It was painful for her anyway, but she was pretty sure that she was only a minor player in the drama that they were living. She was the wife who didn’t understand, or perhaps she was cast as a woman too involved with her children, or maybe one who had ‘let herself go’. She recognized that they had to choose to see her that way so they could live with themselves. If she were the misunderstood one then their story wouldn’t work, they would be the bad ones. If she was the problem then Zach’s behaviour made sense, no one would fault him for it. A man whose wife doesn’t understand him must naturally seek comfort elsewhere. And if that comfort is to be found with her good friend, the person she had confided in when she first felt the tendrils of Zach’s heart shrink away from hers, then who could blame him. It was logical that he would turn to someone already close to him. There was no version of this in which she was not the problem, in which their greed and selfishness was the issue. There was no alternate scenario in which Zach was behaving immaturely and got pissed off when he was called out on it. That version didn’t play out in their world.
She assumed she was supposed to sit by and let the whole thing run its course, she was supposed to just carry on as if she didn’t know and then, when he tearfully confessed after it had ended, she was supposed to forgive and forget. She imagined that she might be able to forgive, but she would never, ever forget, and that is what would chew at her from the inside. There was no way she would be able to live like that, carrying on blissfully as if nothing had every gone wrong. As if she had never been wronged.
That’s why she had planned this dinner. They thought that it was another example of her willful ignorance of their behaviour, but it was anything but.
She set the table with flowers, took out the good china and dressed in his favourite outfit. She had made her specialty, fresh bread, a green salad, slow cooked chili – extra hot, and a lemon meringue pie. She had painted in the inside of each dish, plate and cup with a solution made with rat poison. She would sit them both down, then suddenly remember an urgent errand in town before rushing off in the car that he and Ginny had arrived in. Then, with her gone, they would share their last lovers’ meal.