Imperfect Truth(8)

By: Ava Harrison

“That will be $550.” Damn, this is turning out to be an expensive Sunday afternoon. As expensive as the bag is, I decide I totally deserve it. I pull out my Amex and commit to the purchase.

I ARRIVE BACK at my apartment a little after 1 pm. I find Alexandre where I left him earlier today. Still nestled in the couch. The Pacers game is on, and the sound is blaring from the TV as he cheers and shouts at each pass and dunk.

I move into our bedroom. I can’t stand to be in the same room as Alexandre. How can he not see what this relationship is doing to me? I submerge myself in our pristine bed. White linens, white duvet, white pillows. The bed is perfect, no room for imperfections.

It’s all a fucking lie.

I feel the urge to unravel it, to tear away the sheets from their confines. As my anger rises, I pull, the bed sheet unraveling like thread pulling at my soul…unraveling me to break free. A lone tear trickles down my cheek, and a vast set of emotions discharges through me, splitting me in two. Thoughts of new beginnings, of starting over, penetrate my mind. But as quickly as the thoughts grow, I push them back. As I steady my breath, my eyes grow heavy, and I decide to close them for just a minute.

I’m awakened by Alexandre’s voice screaming through the apartment.

“Ava! What about dinner? Ava, did you hear me?” he asks as he strolls into the room.

“Sorry, Alex, I must have fallen asleep.”

“Well, what do you want for dinner?”

“Honestly, I don’t care.”

“I was thinking of ordering pizza and watching basketball.”

“Okay,” I say, my voice relieved that I wouldn’t have to keep up the charade through dinner. I pick up my Kindle. In this state of mind, eating is overrated.

THE TENSION IS growing around me.

As the days pass, our apartment becomes a ticking time bomb. Each comment misunderstood, each glance misconstrued. I’m in a constant state of apprehension. I walk on eggshells within the confines of my impeccable apartment. The house of glass I live in is starting to crack and falter. I fear the aftermath when it finally comes crashing down.

The perfect portrayal of our unbalanced life comes to the forefront as we sit down to dinner that Thursday evening. The table is set to a degree that even an etiquette expert would be proud of. The flatware is exactly where it should reside at the outside and then working inward as the meal courses progress. Our crystal glass stemware is above and to the right of the dinner plate; the bread and butter plate sits above it and to the left. Perfection.

The first time I had my mother in law over for dinner was a disaster. The flatware was in the incorrect order and the bread plate was certainly not in the right place. The look of disgust on her face…let’s just say, I wouldn’t be making that mistake again. I can still hear her voice in my ear as she spoke to her husband in a not so hushed tone about me…

“How can you teach manners to a woman who obviously has no class, Maxwell? Can you imagine if the Stuarts had accompanied us as planned? What an embarrassment that would have been.”

The aromatic smell of the Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and Escarole and Apple Salad we had catered in permeates through the thick air in our formal dining room. I unfold my napkin and place it on my lap.

Once finished with the first course, I turn to Alexandre to tell him the news I received. Earlier that day, I got an email from Très Chic Magazine. They wanted to interview me; they wanted to ask me questions pertaining to the types of books the affluent housewife would read. It was an honor to be chosen, and I was delirious with delight.

“Alexandre, I have some amazing news,” I announce, my voice rising with excitement. “Are you listening to me?” I exclaim.

"Hold on,” he answers as he continues to text.

“Alex, I really want to tell you something. It’s important.”

“Now really isn’t a good time.”

“Oh for crying out loud, is it ever a good time?” I breathe in deeply as I feel my dejected thoughts turn to anger. “Who are you even texting?”

“It’s nothing,” he mumbles.

“Well, if it’s nothing, why can’t you answer me?”

“God Ava, it’s work. Want to see it?” He angrily flails the phone in my face. “Happy? Okay, what? What is so important that you had to interrupt me?”

“Nothing, Alexandre, forget it.” My vision blurs as tears form in my eyes.

I concentrate on cutting my meat with precision as we sit in complete silence. The only sound comes from the gears turning, the pendulum swinging, and the faint tick-tock of the grandfather clock that stands at a towering height in the corner.

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