“Well, how’ve you been?” he said before taking a sip of his wine.
“Fine, fine,” she said, looking nervous. She thoughtlessly wringed her hands as she looked around the restaurant. He noticed.
“You seem agitated.”
She turned back to him and brought her hands below the table, out of sight. She said nothing.
“Is this awkward for you?” he asked her.
“A bit, yeah. Isn’t it for you?”
He smiled, grateful for the hydroquinone he took before coming. “Not at all; I was looking forward to seeing you again.” They sat there, she looking around the room, her hands, anywhere but him, while he tried to think of what to say next. He wanted to talk about their son, Chris. If he said “her” son, he might come across as too distant. “His” son might seem too overbearing and possessive. He certainly couldn’t use “Chris,” since that was the name of the lover she took while he was on assignment.
“What about our son? How’s he doing?”
“Chris is great. He’s starting to say complete sentences. They aren’t always grammatically correct, but you can tell what he’s trying to say,” she said with a smile. She started to feel more relaxed, and talked more freely. “He’s doing a lot better than Pam’s kid. Serves him right after what he did to Chris.”
She must think I already know what happened, that she already told me, he thought. Maybe she told Chris, her lover, about it, and is confusing the two of us. I wonder if he has a kid at the same pre-school, and that’s how the two of them met. I can’t really ask her about that, at least not yet. I want to try and get her back, not push her away.
“I’m sorry, what did Pam’s son do to Chris?”
“Well, it wasn’t just one thing, he just acted like a bully. You know, taking his toys away, pushing him down, that sort of thing,” she said after drinking some of her wine. Narrowing her eyes, she added, “Don’t you remember?”
In fact, his memory finally did kick in as she was describing it. He felt very embarrassed and reached for his glass. “Now I do.” He swallowed almost all of it and reached for the bottle to pour himself some more.
They sat in silence. He couldn’t concentrate on any one thing for more than a moment, couldn’t come up with something for them to talk about. He didn’t want to resort to brainless small talk, but that had to be better than just sitting here and not saying a word.
“The weather yesterday was just gorgeous. I walked through Stanley Park and–”
The waiter came out of nowhere and interrupted him with salad. Relief swept over him. He had ran into an old girlfriend at the park, which he only remembered after he had started talking. They spoke only briefly, but he had spent the rest of the walk thinking about her and how he should try and keep in touch with her. When he had gotten home, he decided that if this dinner with his wife didn’t go well, that he would call her.
After he was about halfway through his salad, she broke the silence. “Do you really think we can make it work again?”
He stopped and looked up at her. “I think so. I think we deserve another chance.”
She bowed her head.
“Listen. I talked to the newspaper and they’re willing to work with me to give me more time here at home.” His home for the moment was a hotel room, but he felt that was beside the point. “I think we can make it work.” He reached out for her hand. She simply looked up at him.