She seemed nice...
The oncoming headlights haloed between swipes of the wipers.
What's that dear?
David's wife, for a second there I thought you knew her.
The drive back to the hotel was dark and lined with hazards.
You mean Monique?
My wife's conference in Quebec-I had to go. Dinner with her boss is my penitence for maturing into a boring but devoted husband. David's hand is cool and dry but his wife's is moist and her fingers linger over mine, familiar-and she has eyes that know me intimately.
Is this your first time in Montreal?
No, I finished my university here-1975.
That was long ago. Oui?
You remember some French?
A few words... and other things.
I insist on ordering for you both; after all, it is our treat.
The food came, very French-all of my favorites-and each time she passed a dish, her skin sought mine, throwing accidental sparks in the candlelight. And yet she was attentive to my wife, gauging the weight of our lives together, genuinely happy for us, for me; as the night wound down, the 'what-ifs' that people carry around for decades were gently and discreetly laid to rest.
She'd ordered Nonpareil with dessert and it was bittersweet.
Yes, I mean Monique.
I reached over and gripped her hand in our special way, the one that let her know I want to love her tonight. Yes, David did alright, I said, but not as good as me.