“I like the sound of blueberry scones. What about you, hon?” I ask, but Alice continues peering into her Sconehenge menu with furrowed brows, as if she’s memorizing every item on it. So the cold war is still on.
Her hair is pulled back so harshly into a topknot, that not one strand has misbehaved. I can tell by her puffy eyes that she has cried all night.
The little bell at the door rings. She walks in with a shock of flame-red hair and a statuesque body bandaged in a black dress, teetering on four-inch heels. My stomach lurches.
It’s her! Rowena Mc’something. I squirm in my hot seat. Maybe she’s just here for brunch.
The mâitre d’ points to our table and she sashays over. Shit! I have to think fast.
A sharp tug at the pink gingham tablecloth promptly tilts Alice’s coffee mug. The brown liquid spreads over her white tee in seconds.
“Crap!” Her eyes throw daggers at me before she walks away towards the restroom.
“Hi, you!” Rowena’s fingers dance, as if she’s playing the piano.
“What are you doing here?” My words come out sharp through my gritted teeth.
“I’m here for brunch, silly!” She sits a little too close to me. I can smell her coconut shampoo. Our arms and thighs touch. I sit up straight.
“Look, I’m here with Alice, my wife. She’ll be here any minute now. You need to go.” My eyes dart towards the restroom door.
“Oh, Alice is here? That’s great!” She picks up the menu and sits back.
“Did you not hear what I said? You need to leave, now!”
“That’s rude, Jack.” She pouts. “You know you need me.” I hate that singsong-y voice. “I never ask you to just leave after we…you know…” she winks.
“I was weak, okay? I gave in once, just once, you bloodsucking leech! Look, I’ll pay you, I promise. Please leave before Alice sees you.” I join my palms and beg.
“You’ll pay me?” She tilts her head back and laughs. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard!”
The restroom door swings open.
“Alice is coming!” I grit my teeth. “Go! Now!”
She places her hand on my thigh. “Like I said, Jack, sweetheart, you need me.”
I run my finger inside my sweaty collar. A million explanations race through my head and drop down in a sorry heap.
Alice stops in her tracks. Her eyes widen.
“Alice, I can explain…I…”
She looks straight through me. “Rowena, thanks for coming!”
What the…? How…?
“Alice!” Rowena gets up and hugs her. Have I stumbled into some kind of a parallel universe?
“Is he here?” Alice looks around but her eyes don’t settle on me.
“Oh yeah, Mr. Grumpy is here alright.” Rowena jerks her neck towards me.
“Can I…umm… talk to him again?” Alice kneads her knuckles.
“Of course.” Rowena tilts her head back, opens her mouth and breathes in with vigor.
“You need to floss more often!” I shout as I get sucked inside Rowena.
Rowena shudders as I take over her body. I touch Alice’s warm hand. “Alice, sweetheart, I’m here.”
Alice dabs her eyes. “Jack, I miss you, so much. You’d have loved the blueberry scones here.”