“I’m not embarrassed. I’m angry.” She hissed this at the window in David’s stupid black Jeep. This car he had bought to show the neighbours how rugged he is; this man with soft hands and carefully parted hair. “I was perfectly capable of getting myself home. They did not need to call you.”
The rain began. Its drumming on the roof masked his drumming on the steering wheel. She was grateful. The black dog found its feet in the back seat and moved to rest his chin on her shoulder. She recalled him vomiting sea water and kibble onto the pedicured trophy wives and smiled.
David said, “Selena, you nearly drowned.” His voice was very calm, slow and measured, as though he were talking to a patient. Not his wife. She looked at his white knuckles and tense jaw and wanted to smack him hard. Just once. Wake up! This is our LIFE! She could imagine the shock in her palm and the scrape of his stubble and that brief flash of awareness before his training took over. Before he became professionally calm and was once again the counselor, mediating his wife’s dark tempest. It would almost be worth it.
“Barney nearly drowned. I lost my kayak.”
He glanced away from the road to look at her face. Finally. “I’m sorry about that. He must have followed you out.”
“You didn’t see him?”
“I wasn’t watching.”
“What were you doing?”
He stared at her briefly again, in absolute disbelief. The windshield wipers made their wet rhythm, catching leaves and seed pods. She watched the rain pound loose those bits of green and wash them to the gravel below. Barney lay down with his head on his paws. There would be mud smears on David’s pristine leather seat. She heard the deadfall begin as the wind picked up. No doubt roads up the mountain would be blocked by morning, then birdsong and chainsaws through the day.
“Selena, I was making tea.” Through clenched teeth. “And then I read for awhile. And then I looked at the clock and thought you had finally done it, out there on the breakwater. When the phone rang-” He took a breath and let it out, both hands tight on the steering wheel. The decorative ladybug reflectors at the end of their drive were just visible through the murk.
She turned away from the window, stunned. “You thought I was trying to kill myself?”
“Well, what the fuck was I supposed to think?” He cranked the wheel hard to the right, stomped on the brake and glared. His hands flopped to his thighs and she was dangerously close to giggling, picturing quiet, serious, safe David clapping out Miss Mary Mack in the car.
She said, “The storm was well off. The bay was calm.” Searching his face. “I just needed some space to think. Don’t you ever need that?”
She laughed and pressed her hands over her face. “Of course, you don’t.”
© Desi S. Valentine, 2012.