Later that afternoon, Bill rummages through some things, finds a picture of Jill, and shows it to me. She has long brown hair and a sweet, fragile smile.
“She’s pretty,” I tell him, but not as pretty as me.
Three days before, he had prattled on for what seemed like hours about how Jill and her husband, his ex-best friend, were moving back to Atlanta. Old friends of his had revealed this interesting tidbit, and it was consuming him like a lit match on gasoline.
“They’re going to live one exit away from me! One exit! The nerve of that bitch! Why couldn’t they just stay in New York!” he had ranted.
“Atlanta is a big city, and you guys no longer move in the same circles. Odds are, you’ll never see her,” I told him, but my words were useless.
I shower and change into a sundress as blue as a Caribbean sea, but Bill barely notices. He is mesmerized by the Outdoor Life Network. I should make a clean exit, but I don’t. Instead, I try using all of my feminine wiles to ease Bill’s tension, but he is having none of it. I gather my things as Karma and Sylvester swish about my legs and look up at me with mocking grins. Damn cats I think. ‘I hope you both choke on hairballs.’
“Well, it’s getting late. I’m just gonna head back home.”
Bill stops watching kayaking tips long enough to acknowledge my existence.
“Listen, I’m sorry,” he says, “I’m just really stressed out right now.”
I know he has called her or made some kind of contact. It truly doesn’t matter to me. I met Bill in a bar; I can meet another in a bar. It is all the same. I slip on my sandals, and he walks me to my car.
“You look really pretty in that dress,” he says, and then spins me slowly around to see my face. “Are you o.k.?”
“Yeah, sure…I’m fine.”
I smile at him and then sink behind the wheel. I know I won’t be back. I roll the window down, crank the radio up, and let the night air wash away Bill and the cats and all the reasons for ever being someone’s second best.
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