The Blue Wind's Return Part 5
it's never up to you
but she was walking back and forth
and I was passing through
― Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing
Some women see that as the mark of a suffering artist, but I don’t.
It’s damn frustrating—like sitting here in my dining room entertaining another woman.
The guilt is overpowering.
You might say, Well, that’s absurd. Your partner’s deceased—you’re free.
I’d smile and say, You’ve got a point—that’s very logical, but one thing you'll find with big emotions is that logic doesn’t help.
Besides, Sylvia and I weren’t exactly partners—more like quarreling lovers.
Sometimes we snapped together like magnets—and sometimes the poles got reversed, and we pushed each other apart.
Occasionally, she’d leave and spend the night in a hotel down the street—just to create some space.
Finally, in her ultimate getaway, she was repulsed all the way to Hawaii where she died in the waves.
So yeah, I’m conflicted.
I came by it honestly.
“This is really good, Neil—better than the macaroni we make at The Patisserie.”
Jill’s eyes were bright in the reflected candlelight and she made my stomach flip, the same way it did in the restaurant when I saw her for the first time.
“Well, I’d say you’re biased because you haven’t had a hot meal in 24 hours.”
“No,” she laughed, “I’m serious, this is really good. But you’ve hardly touched yours.”
I glanced guiltily at the plate. “Maybe I’m distracted,” I smiled.
“Uh huh,” she grinned, ignoring the line.
I can be quite charming at times. Obviously, this wasn’t one of them.
“So how long do you think we’ll be without power—did you see any news bulletins on line?”
I was hoping it would be several days of her being helpless but found myself telling her, “It’ll be back up in 24 hours they say.”
She nodded and looked relieved. I didn’t feel the same.
It had only been a month, but my arms felt empty as a midnight street in rain, and I wanted to shelter someone again—not that I did that with Sylvia, but I wanted to.
You always want what you can’t have.
”I’m stuffed, “ she exclaimed, pushing away from the table.
She looked satisfied. “Can I help with the dishes?”
“No way, you’re my guest. But you can help me finish the bottle of Shiraz.”
A pained look crossed her face. “Oh, I’d love to Neil but I’ve got a paper to finish for a course and I lost a day digging out of the storm and sealing the doors and windows with weather stripping.”
“Yeah, it was kind of unexpected.”
I began feeling bad about the abandoned snow blower at the end of my drive that could have saved her a lot of time.
“You say you’re working on a paper. Are you taking a university course at night?”
“No,” she smiled, “I’m in graduate school finishing my doctorate in Victorian literature. I work weekends and occasional nights at The Patisserie to help pay for my fees.”
“Wow, that sounds impressive—not to mention, a lot of work.”
“It’s a labor of love, I guess.”
She put on her ski jacket, and pushed back a stray strand of blonde hair. “Well, thank you for the dinner and the conversation. I’ll have to return the favor.”
“It was my pleasure. Don’t feel obligated to repay the gesture, but if you find time I’d love to do this again.”
Her eyes were dancing. “It’s plan.”
After she left, I autopsied the conversation and realized she called me, Neil.
I hadn’t formally introduced myself.
That was puzzling. Then it dawned on me—Marnie.
Was that her plan all along to get me to come out here on the chance I’d meet her neighbor, Jill?
Women—there’s always a subtext. They’re like a secret society with their hidden ways and knowing glances as subtle as a secret handshake.
Still, I had to admit I was intrigued.
I locked the doors, and added a few logs to the fire to get me through the night.
It was funny—on a day when I accomplished nothing, I felt exhausted.
I remembered to let the kitten out to do her business, and watched while she did, but she didn’t take long.
It was bitterly cold.
I stared across the frozen lake at the wind raising ghosts from the snowy drifts. The sight of the ethereal shapes raised a frisson of fear in me.
Everything seemed barren and desolate as a moonscape—but maybe it was just the desolation within me.