Except she wasn’t asleep.
Alice lay in the bed still as she could, careful not to stir her snoring husband. The sun crept slowly into their bedroom before she slipped from the covers. She showered and dressed quickly: stockings, dress, blazer, an ensemble she chose with great care the night before. She wanted to look good. She applied her makeup carefully as she stared at her visage in the mirror: she was beautiful, but her eyes gave away the emptiness that resonated in her
A black town car pulled up in front of the house. The driver stepped out and went around to the back passenger side, just in time for Alice to walk out of the house. Her high heels clicked down the cement stairs and across the sidewalk when she approached. She nodded to the tall, dark man, who responded the nod as he pulled open the door so she could climb inside. The woman inside was long and lean, her left leg thrown across the other, a gray pantsuit elaborating on that figure. She was looking at her phone and her foot was bouncing to whatever song was stuck in her head. The driver shut the door and went back around to the front, obscured by a tinted partition. The woman put her phone down and smiled brightly at Alice. “Hello beautiful,” she said, her voice ringing in Alice’s ears. She gave her a wistful smile. “I’ve missed you,” the woman said, placing her hand on Alice’s bare knee and sliding upward. Alice reeled at how soft her hands were and how foreign it was, compared to what she was used to. The woman slid closer to her and kissed her, her empty hand sliding across her cheek. Alice’s heart fluttered at the notion and the butterflies in her stomach moved south and turned into something else. They kissed, her hand moving closer to the heat resonating from the deepest part of her. Alice grabbed her wrist before she lost control of the situation and pulled away. She needed a clear head for this. “I thought you said you wanted this,” the woman said, sitting back,confusion flickering across her face.
“I did. I do,” Alice said, nodding her head slightly. The woman removed her hand from her grasp. “Jackie,” Alice said, softly. “I thought we talked about all this already. I thought we…” Jackie began. “It’s not that simple. I’m married,” Alice said, leaning toward her.“I was married too.”
“It’s not the same. I’m not…” Gay was the word that popped to the front of her mind. “I’m not putting a label on it. I’m just going on what I feel. And what I feel, whatever it is, it’s for you,” Jackie said, her forehead furrowing. Alice couldn’t deny how she felt about this woman. Too many nights had gone by with her wishing the situation was different. It was inevitable she would have to give it a name. “So what now? We go back to the office, pretend none of this happened?”
“No!” Alice said more abruptly than she intended. “I just… Need a little more time.”
As they rode silently, Alice couldn’t help but ponder the position she was in. 10 months ago, she was happy, successful and madly in love with her husband. The event that would change her, changed the course of their entire marriage. Too much to drink and love in the air, she remembered undressing him in their kitchen and how he made love to her all night. The tingly feeling she got from that night gave her an indescribable glow that lasted for about six weeks, until she woke up in a pool of her own blood. With Andrew was away, visiting his family for a few days upstate, Alice was alone all the way to the hospital. The paper wrapped examination table was uncomfortable, the room reeked with sterility, the florescent lights humming. The doctor was older, what little hair he had left was snow white and smoothed to the back of his head. He did his best to ease her nerves but there was nothing anyone could say to spare the pain. Pregnant. Miscarriage. Her body had rejected something that was a part of her, a part of the love of her life. She couldn’t bear to tell her husband. Breaking Andrew’s heart was something she was once incapable of, so she buried the pain with her baby.
A sharp pain shot through her pelvis as she thought again about her unborn. She winced, calling the attention of Jackie. are you OK? she asked, looking over Alice. Fine. Just a cramp , she said, pressing her hand into her groin. Jackie’s gaze lingered momentarily before she turned back to face the window. They had finally reached their destination: Webster, Jameson & Taylor, a medium sized office with 37 attorneys under its roof, along with a slew of paralegals and other staff. The driver pulled to the front door and Jackie was outside before the car had completely stopped. Alice exited herself, not waiting for the driver who had just let himself out. “Jackie,” Alice to her back. She was sure she had heard her but she kept walking through the cherrywood double doors. Alice, following suit, entered the cool building.
The foyer was surprisingly full this morning, people sitting on the black sofas that covered the room. They all, in one way or another, needed to be represented. Their innocence (or guilt) meant little to most of the legal aid in the building. The walls were painted a pale gray color to match the black and gray carpeting that stretched the room. The receptionist, a mousy woman named Abby, was sat being a half circular desk with a black marble top mear the wall. She smiled at Alice and waved before returning to the phones. The elevator, situated to the back of the room, pinged and she saw Jackie step inside. She walked ahead and slid inside before the doors could shut. “This is how it’s gonna be? You’re gonna ignore for the rest of the day?”
“I’m not playing anymore games with you, Alice. I’m not gonna be your little toy to play with whenever you get bored or lonely.” Jackie spat. The elevator doors open before Alice could rebut and Jackie stormed off, down the hall to her office. Alice sighed and pressed the top floor button. A few seconds later, the elevator wooshed open to the partner floor of WJT. In front of her sat another receptionist, Gail, at another black desk. She looked up as Alice approached her. “Good morning, Mrs. Jordan. I got your morning messages and you had a delivery in your office,” she said, handing her several slips of pink paper. “Did they mention who from?”
“I think he said your husband.” Alice’s stomach turned with butterflies. Andrew had been so sweet the night before, with all his romantic gestures. She knew he still loved her and she honestly wanted it to work. She got to her office, frosted glass obscuring the view from the hallway. The flowers were the first thing she noticed, sitting on her desk. A beautiful arrangement of lilies, her favorite, most of them already blooming. She grinned widely as she picked up the purple vase that held them. She removed the card and smelled them. She couldn’t help but think how sweet Andrew was and how she would call and thank him. She turned the card over in her hand to read the message.
For you, my Blackbird.
Slipping from her hand, the vase shattered into a thousand pieces.