by Andy Betz
I sat in the driver’s seat waiting. She sat in the passenger seat watching me suffer. The rain took its cue from her success and began a slow trickle, just enough to make it excusable to remain with her, not enough to justify leaving. I should have departed nonetheless.
Her perfume became noticeable in the confines of the front seat. It wasn’t the brand I purchased for her, nor was it anything I had even encountered previously while in her company. It did complement her attire of seamed stockings and pencil skirt.
She was on the prowl and wanted me to know it.
Her lipstick ran interference against my advances. Remaining as a buffer between us, she
artfully wielded the tube, preventing my proximity. To the novice, this might have been foreplay. But to the astute mind, her actions confirmed a modus operandi.
She was moving on.
I wanted a modus vivendi. Our modus vivendi. The one that made me happy. The one, I
thought, made her happy. It was not meant to be.
Her silence was a dichotomy. With it, she remained somewhat coy, somewhat demure, never vexing. There would be no memory of words spoken in haste tonight. Thus, no apologies for the former.
She kept her own counsel awaiting my attempts to acquire intelligence.
I followed suit listening for the aqueous trickle to move to a drizzle.
Her silk blouse, the one purchased in Rotterdam last summer, finally found its purpose. The
sales clerk educated us that May that the best silk received grading, much like diamonds, and then further classification for the discriminating buyer’s palate. The cost of the grade 6A blouse required a “raison de vivre” for its deployment.
Tonight was that “raison de vivre.”
I noticed the rain increased its tempo, droplet for droplet, matching the intensity within the
When I met her, I was smitten, and it showed. We encountered each other at a wedding, designed not for the bride and groom, but for her to be groomed as the next bride. She used the makeshift dance floor as all the excuse she required to part ways with her intended and discover me, as I cut in. He might have been furious at my brazen act, but all he revealed was a smile.
He gave her that smile. It spoke more than any words could. Then he told me, “Ne eligat is qui donum accipit” before retiring. It seemed so out-of-place that I discarded its significance every day since.
That is until today. A day I knew would eventually arrive. Deep within my heart, I quietly holstered that phrase alongside the definition of limerence.
As a pair of Grim Reapers slowly stalked my happiness, I ignored their obvious approach, hoping for another delay to extend my borrowed time for another day. Then another hour. Now, I ask for only a moment more.
She is rummaging through her purse. I mimic her actions. We both finish simultaneously. In my hand, I present a pair of half carat diamond earrings. I offer them to her altar as a sacrifice against borrowed time already spent.
As a tell, she reveals a small smile, not quite a smile, but close. She removes a pair of 1 carat
diamond earrings, set in platinum, and dons them as gracefully as a Queen at a coronation. I was at set point and double faulted.
The rain pauses momentarily for me to hear a tap on my driver’s side window. She nods her
head to acknowledge his presence. He gestures to take my place. Match point and I am aced.
The car is registered to her as I acquiesce my position, this time on the giving and not the
receiving end. Amenities aside, I have zero standing. I remember the phrase, once spoken to me, with perfect timing to come full circle and offer it to him.
But I don’t.
Somewhere, while walking in the drizzle, I imagine a miniscule level of comeuppance in which I disappoint her by not taking that opportunity. She must expect that I would, never foreseeing an independent move from me.
Perhaps this is for the best.
It is a long walk home and the rain takes pity on me. The skies did not clear, but they will,
eventually. Perhaps, it is I who received the gift after all.
Andy Betz has tutored and taught in excess of 40 years, lives in 1974, and has been married for 31 years. His works are found everywhere a search engine operates.