Jack raised the glass to his lips, sipped, and smiled at Jane. “Tell me what you’d like to happen.” His eyes twinkled with cocky confidence that simultaneously annoyed and excited Jane. There was a subtle subtext behind the nuances of every move he made. Jane found herself staring into his eyes and feeling absorbed by his energy. It was like gazing into the eyes of a fearsome predatory animal. Awesome, powerful, but ultimately at a whim, wholly destructive beyond measure.
Jane sat in silence for a moment. She contemplated the question but no reasonable answer arrived in her mind. “I’m not sure really.” It was the truth. She was completely unsure of herself.
“You’re not? Why am I here then?” He cocked his head to the side and looked at her intensely. His previously smirking face morphing into an unflinching deadpan stare.
“Well, I am sure. I think. I want you–here, but I’m–yeah.” Jane felt herself stumbling through each sentence clumsily. She was suddenly aware of how very tired she was. The last few hours of this dreary day had been the most emotionally draining of her life. And now, here with Jack asking outwardly simple, but inwardly confusing questions it was if the oxygen in the room was being removed ever so slowly and she was succombing to hypoxia.
“That doesn’t sound very sure at all.” Jack raised a single eyebrow questioningly. He had softened his stare somewhat, but Jane still felt the piercing pressure of his gaze.
“It’s not. I’m scared.” Jane paused for a moment. She squinted and then rubbed her eyes in annoyance. “I don’t know what I’m doing!” She her hand gestured at nothing, or noone in particular. She just had to expel the frustration through vehement motion.
“Is that important?” Jack reached down and nonchalantly took another small sip of wine. He seemed quite impervious to the whirling dervish of emotions that Jane was feeling.
“That I’m scared?” Jane clasped her hands together tightly and rested them on her lap in a vain attempt to reassure herself.
“Is it important that you know what you’re doing?” Jack leant forward and put his hand on Jane’s knee.
Jane felt the warmth of his palm pulsate through the thin fabric of her dress, through the skin of her knee and straight to her churning insides. “I–I guess not.” The moment he touched her she felt suddenly reassured. It was like the reassuring pressure of a padded harness clamping down on her shoulders as a thrilling rollercoaster ride left the station.
“So how about we leave that to me then.” Jack leant back into his chair again, releasing her knee and smiling gently at her.
Jane caught a quick breath, “S–sure. That sounds better.” Her mind was like a vast ocean of never ending waves and she lay on a single piece of a broken bow clinging to the one solid object within sight. As she bobbed up and down, terrified of what might happen next there was a light in the distance. It called to her and gave her the hope she needed to carry on.
“So tell me what you’d like to happen.”
“I want.” Jane paused for a moment and measured her words carefully, “I want to get back at him.” It was the only thing she knew for sure.
“And this is the way to do it?” Jack gestured to himself and then to Jane.
“I think so. Don’t you think so?” Jane was even less sure of herself than she was just minutes before. It felt like she had to do something. She just had to. She knew it. She couldn’t sit idle anymore. She couldn’t pretend this one away and make believe that it didn’t happen. This wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work. Could it? What if she did pretend. If she tried hard enough maybe she’d remember the restaurant differently.
“It’s not my place to say.” Jane snapped back to the present with one note of Jack’s voice. “I’ve always found that the best way to get back at someone is to take the thing they cherish most and slowly destroy it. Is that you? Are you what he cherishes most Jane?”
“He cherishes–” she furrowed her brow and looked down at herself, then back to Jack “He cherishes–” She felt her throat close up, her cheeks felt flushed and her eyes started to burn with a sudden flood of painful emotion. She felt the floodgates release and her eyes welled up with pain stricken tears. “It’s not me. It was never me.” She scowled and scrunched her face but the hurt wouldn’t subside. “It’s not me that he cherishes, it’s this idea of me, this perfect image of what a wife should be.” Jane sobbed uncontrollably. She felt hurt, betrayed, reviled, and rejected. “I wanted to be that perfect wife for him. I wanted him to want me.” It was true. She knew it was and she hated the sound of every syllable leaving her trembling mouth.
“But he doesn’t does he Jane.”
Jane shook her head and balled her hands into fists. She gripped at the upholstery of the couch she sat on and pulled on it, wanting to tear it to pieces. “It’s all just a facade. All of this. All of it. All of me! I’m just a prop to him.” Jane screamed aloud letting a curdling shriek fill the voluminous room. She gasped. Her chest heaving as she felt a ball of fiery hate welling inside of her. “I don’t deserve this shit. I don’t! It’s not fucking fair! I did everything I could. Everything. Every–thing!” She picked up the bottle of wine and with a violent swing threw it at the wall. It instantly shattered into hundreds of little shards. The wine splashed across the ivory white wall and dripped down like a grape infused macabre death scene. “Oh fuck.” she clasped her hands over her mouth and looked over at Jack. He hadn’t moved an inch and reacted as if this behavior was perfectly acceptable. Jane wanted to kiss him just for that.
“A little yeah.” Jane snickered, shaking her head. She looked up at Jack and wiped the tears from her eyes once more. “You must think I’m nuts.”
“I’ve seen worse.” Jack smiled and winked. “Felt good to break something didn’t it.”
“It was his wine.” She smirked. “He loves his wine.”
Jack nodded, “It’s a start.”
“You better go.” Jane looked at him and sighed, “I’m going to have to clean that all up before he gets home or shit’s going to hit the fan.”
Jack stood from his seat and reached out to pull Jane to her feet as well. She tried to quickly fix her dress and pull her hair back into position. But before she could think another thought or blurt another sorrow filled word Jack leant in towards her cupping her chin gently in his soft but strong hand. She closed her eyes and held her breath feeling the slippery silky beauty of his stubble bordered manly lips pressing up against her waiting and quivering mouth. There was a tenderness there that Jane couldn’t remember ever feeling before.
It was as if a decade of missed kisses smashed into her mind all at once. The power and pleasure of every one of them blasting through her body like escaped souls on the way to a glorious afterlife. She shuddered and melted into his arms.
“That’s what being cherished feels like, Jane.” Jack finally said after breaking the kiss.
“Oh fuck me upside down.” Jane muttered under her breath.
“Leave the wine. Let him see it. Tomorrow I want you to go out. I want you to go do something that a perfect wife wouldn’t do. Go flirt with a random man at a coffee shop. Wink at a stranger. I don’t care what, just take yourself out of this cocoon you’ve been subsisting in. I want you to take yourself out of this place and spend time thinking of what space you really want to be in.”
“Yes sir.” Jane replied quickly.
“Call me when you think you’re ready.” Jack turned and walked to the door before turning one last time to Jane, “It was nice to meet you Jane.” and he left without another word.
“It was nice to meet you too.” Jane whispered after him. Beyond the glass door she saw him slip into his car and the throaty engine growled to life as Jack tore off down the driveway. Jane ran her fingers over her lips gently as she closed her eyes forcibly trying to remember every nuance of Jack’s kiss. She sighed to herself before turning back to the empty house.
She looked at the clock and shook her head in annoyance. It was already half past midnight. Nathan was nowhere to be found. Even though him coming back at a reasonable hour would have meant he caught her with Jack, she still was irritated by his lack of appearance. How could he possibly think she would believe he was working all night long. It was such a slap in the face. He was being so obvious about his affair Jane was disgusted by it. In her irritation Jane started up the stairs, only to stop halfway and give the middle finger to the wall coated in drying wine, “Fuck you asshole.” she said aloud to herself.
She took three more steps up before stopping again. This time it was to contemplate the results of such defiance. Leaving the wine on the wall, with the wine bottle shattered below would certainly garner a reaction from Nathan. It definitely would not be a pleasant one. Invariably even if he saw it, and even if she made her point that she was angry, she would end up being the one to clean it up. Jane growled to herself and stomped down the stairs. She retrieved a dust pan and a broom from the kitchen and began sweeping up the glass absentmindedly.
She collected the shards and delicately deposited them into the garbage before returning to the scene of the crime with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water. With each stroke of the sponge across the wine soaked wall she saw Nathan’s face, laughing and smiling as he held the hand of his male lover. Jane felt sick to her stomach. It wasn’t just that he had betrayed her, but to do so in a manner that was so impossible for her to compete with. She almost felt like it would have been better if it was another woman. Jane squeezed the sponge as tightly as she could in her perfectly manicured hand. She through the sponge back into the bucket, now mixed with wine as well as water. It splashed, and coated her lap with a frothy and slightly rouge mix of soapy water and she screamed in anger.
A moment later the door opened and in stepped a smiling Nathan. He walked over to her confidently and smiling broadly. “You’re still up my love?” The words came rolling out of his mouth dipped in a sweetness of sincerity. It made Jane want to vomit.
“Yes. Clearly.” she responded back, nearly hissing at him as she did.
“Had a little accident I see?” Nathan gestured not to the wall but to Jane’s soaked dress.
“Well don’t worry about it. I can get you another dress tomorrow.” He walked over to Jane and kissed her gently on the top of the head. He smelled like lavender. “It’s only a dress.” He smiled and turned to head up the stairs. “Come to bed now my love. It’s far too late to be up and about.” He bounded up the stairs with little effort and never looked to see if Jane followed.
She stayed down on her knees for a moment, gritting her teeth in anger.
“Fucking lavender.” she whispered to herself, then vomited into the soapy bucket.