From Sex, Life, & Hannah::Volume 1, Winter Season (CHAPTER 5: REBOUNDING)
When Clark asked me to dinner, I’d assumed it would be a family affair. I’d put on a sexy yet inconspicuous black dress, thinking this would be like a pseudo-date with Ben, where he would get to see the charming side of me and I would get surprised by his intellect and wit. We would finish dinner with a whole new admiration for one another and a mutual natural urgency to spend more time together. Then he would take me into his bedroom, and because it wasn’t all about sex this time, we would make love slowly. He would last, and I would get to come.
But instead, it was nine o’clock, two hours after Chopper’s chop shop closed, and no additional dinner guests in sight.
“Hannah, I have some things I need to tell you,” Clark says from the other end of the table. He walks over to the wine cupboard, grabs another bottle of Cabernet Franc from the glass case, and sets it on the table next to the row of empties. Clark is no stranger to liquor—he was in the Navy, now works for the Navy, and is from Boston-but tonight he has noticeably been drinking even more than usual.
“Hannah,” he begins again, “I have been married before. To a woman.”
This explains many things.
“And she left me. Because she thought I was gay.” Clark pauses, looks at the ceiling, and clears his throat, composing himself.
I work hard to keep my expression neutral.
“And yes, I had been with men. But her leaving me was a devastating blow that sent me spiraling into the dark oceanic depths of a bitter self-destructive vengeance.”
I stare at Clark, trapped within the confines of what is now a church confessional. I lift my wine glass and take a large gulp.
“You see, men are a dime a dozen. But a woman who embodies virtue, vantage, and grace is the only thing that ensures the propagation of our very civilization.”
A very dramatic church confessional. I bite into the last piece of vegetable on my plate.
“Hannah, I love you.”
I nearly choke on my asparagus.
“I fell in love with you when you moved in three years ago. Of course, at first I thought it was just an appreciation of your perfection, but as time went on I realized it was real.”
This has to be a drunken rant. Clark cannot be in love with me; he is gay—or so I thought until tonight. I am overwhelmed. I don’t know what to say, so I say nothing at all.
“But you were dating what’s-his-name,” Clark pushes on, “even though I always knew he wasn’t right for you. God, how it killed me, how he didn’t value you. He never treated you the way you deserved to be treated. The way I would treat you.”
Clark raises his glass at me, as if prodding some kind of a response.
I clutch at my wine glass like an anchor and nervously poke my fork around my plate, hoping to find more food.
“I love Ben,” I blurt. I am unclear how I decide this is the right thing to say.
Clark lowers his glass. After a stifling period of silence, he drops his head into his arms and slumps over his dinner plate. I wait a few minutes. And then a few more. With no response, I get up and walk around the table that has suddenly become the burning pit of grievous hell.
I pull out the big heavy chair next to Clark’s and place my hand on his shoulder. I want to comfort him, or console him. I nudge him a bit. Clark lifts his head…and decides to bury it in my chest.
Enter Chopper and Ben—two and a half hours too late.
“What’s going on here, honey? A little romantic dinner for two gone bad?” Chopper rounds the table and gives me a peck on the cheek. “I told Clark you guys should’ve joined us at The Pink Bear.”
Clark lifts his head and stands up. Grabbing onto the chair for balance, he looks at Chopper, at me, and then turns and points at Ben. “She loves him!” he slurs, then staggers out of the dining room, bouncing off a wall, a photograph, and a French door on the way out.
I look from Chopper to Ben, and then, like a woman possessed by too much wine and a mission gone bad, I grab Ben by the collar of his t-shirt and drag him across the backyard to my house.
To Be Continued…
Sex, Life, & Hannah::Volume 1, Winter Season by Dorota Skrzypek.
Copyright 2007 by Dorota Skrzypek.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
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