Drunken people tell their loudest dreams. My boyfriend dances on his trunk – liquor bottle in hand while he curses God because he did not get the new job. I’m not pretty enough either. He is shouting about my acne scars and big horse teeth. Then he quotes the Bible again. “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22, King James Version). This is just a reminder that he wouldn’t dare marry me – because I will never be a good thing.
I roll my eyes. I am embarrassed as he berates me in front of his male friends. This was supposed to be a nice congratulatory dinner – I really thought he would get the job. I made steak, steamed broccoli, and brown rice. It waits for him on the kitchen table. The bourbon whiskey runs through his veins. He is telling lies about how I tricked him into a relationship because I said I was a journalist. I was supposed to be a “catch” with my sculpted legs and over $50,000 income.
“Damn you! You lied about everything, bitch. You don’t have no damn money. You said you were a journalist, but you still haven’t told my life story. Where is my expose’ ? I was supposed to be on the cover of TIME! “
His words make my heart hurt. I didn’t lie. I was a journalist but the economy changed everything for us at the local paper. I had to leave and do other things for money. No, I was no longer making the same income. I now made much less. Sorrow turned to anger thinking of all I sacrificed the last three years. “Get off the trunk, Terrence. I’m getting sick of your crap tonight!”
His two friends stand around laughing and point to my front teeth. One of them finally asks if I have dental veneers. I have known Brian for almost nine months and he has never asked such a personal question. I don’t answer.
Terrence’s index finger hits his temple. “I figured it out. I was drunk when I met you! That explains a lot now. It’s like when you go to the fair and they have those special mirrors…you look one way and then you look a different way from the side or something. That was what you did – presented something you weren’t when I met you. Tell the truth in front of Brian and Will. Let us know your secrets, Ava.”
“I never said anything about getting you on the cover of TIME. Why do you say stuff like that? Brian and Will . . . I’m sorry to tell you Terrence is an idiot.
Terrance spills out some of his whiskey in my direction. He starts doing the shuffle on top of his truck for about a minute as his friends follow along with his dance steps. We are on the back lawn of our condo and I can’t help but think. It would not have been my plan to be 27 years old dating a man-child who was all of 28. I stand here now watching him and his drunk friends pretending to be the Temptations.
The dancing stops. Brian and Will start walking away. “Hey, this night can’t end now. It’s only 8 p.m. Where are you all going?” Terrence shouts.
Will coughs. He starts to speak but then just stands there shaking his head. He looks at his watch and Brian gets the hint as well. They head to Will’s car. Terrance steps off the truck and stares right through my almond-shaped brown eyes. It was my skin that was the color of fudge and smelled like it. It excited all his senses from our first meeting a year ago. He holds up the index finger from his right hand and and lightly brushes it against my lips. My lips part. Terrence’s breath smells of burnt wood. If I had my way we would have been dancing to John Coltrane by now. Dinner would have been devoured, the dishes would have been washed and on the rack drying. I would have lit a vanilla-scented candle and Terrence would have turned on the bluetooth speakers.
Terrence was so far away. He didn’t get the job. He was supposed to be the new accounting analyst at one of the local universities. He was pulling at my strings and I was unraveling like he was now. I supported us both with my substitute teacher salary and freelance articles. Terrence wasn’t going to be the husband. He was too far away. I could no longer see his toned 6 foot body hovering over my 5-foot-4 frame. Terrance had drifted off with the stars.
“Ava, it’s over. I can’t play house with you anymore.”
“I know, Terrance. You haven’t been here in a long time anyway.” Tears started to fall down my cheeks. I walk into the house. I pick up my gym bag off the bedroom floor which was already filled with some clothes, sandals and a pair of sneakers. I eye the purse on the kitchen table and open it briefly. The sonogram is still there. A tear falls as I am walking out the door. Terrance follows me to the car, but can’t muster any words. I smile and he smiles back at me as I drive away.