None of this was any good.
That first time, Max standing at her doorstep, she had eyed the bottle with a critical eye ...
You know I own a bar right downstairs right?
He had shrugged, laughed, I had just wanted to make sure I sent a clear message...
And had brushed passed her, looking for glasses, opening the bottle, cracking ice.
He looked around her apartment for a while, opening cabinets, examining sculptures on the mantle. He stopped finally and stated with a certain satisfaction, I like every single thing in this apartment.
Yeah, well, this will be your favorite, then
And she opened up the backdoor and led him to the roof where she had set up, arguably, one of the best patios he could imagine.
Many drinks later he had still not elaborated on his provocative opening statement and she had seen fit to not describe the generally crushing quality of her existence. The truth was she was ridiculously happy to see him and was, for just a few moments, not regretting most of the things about her new life and she was thinking that maybe not inviting that ghost in the room would be a nice change.
Added to the list of things they did not talk about in detail were anything to do with John, anything to do with his wife, who had apparently gone on vacation with the threat of leaving, more permanently, soon, and anything to do with how she had been culpable in that equation. Mostly they just drank, talked about books and played the very slowest game of chinese checkers.
He later fell asleep on her couch and woke up several hours later looking a little guilty before looking at his keys and promising to come back and visit soon.
Which he did, mostly coming by the bar now, sometimes at odd off hours but she always let him in. Once, in the bar, she commented that serving him in off hours was quite actually illegal, and he simply noted that she should close the bar for the day, which she did.
She suggested, once or twice, that they actually drink in another bar and he simply noted that this was the only place he left the house to drink in:
You know how much I hate to leave my home.
This was true and had always been true. And he had never once had a drink at the bar when it was hers and Johns. Not after opening night. Not even for free. It was too bright, too cheery, to slick.
Now it was a different animal and she was beginning to get the sense that she had built the perfect place for him, in particular, to drink, and found the perfect couch for him to sleep on. And as she examined her reinvention she wondered if all of this new newness wasn't so much newness as a different oldness: invention in his image because she wasn't quite sure how to reinvent herself purely on her own merits.
When she noted something to that affect it just made them both uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough that he seemed to stay away longer than usual. Then he came by and proceeded to get painfully drunk. It was a pain in the ass and he was an unusually obnoxious drunk that evening, revelling in the illfated comedy of all romance and noting several times that his wife had, quite actually, finally left him.
At the end of the evening, as she was escorting him to the safety of the couch he stopped her and push her up against a wall. At first she thought he was simply going to pass out but then he looked her in the eye and suddenly seemed a lot more sober than she was expecting. He put his hand on her waist, leaned in and whispered "I can't make the first move, or I'll never be able to look John in the eye again".
No. None of this was any good. It wasn't good that it was so easy and it wasn't good that it was so hard, and it wasn't good that she was beginning to want it, and want it badly. And it was most certainly no good that she couldn't stop it because it had already happened, somewhere in the not so distant future.
When she alerted him to the fact that she never, in no uncertain terms, ever made the first move and she wasn't planning on making special accommodations he succinctly went around her home pointing out the variety of things she had bought, the special ways she had arranged them, the jukebox of albums he could have picked out himself, the books she knew he would enjoy. A world of special accommodations already made, a secret land in which their respective secrets could make perfectly no sense together.
She could have pointed out that she liked these books, and she liked these albums and she loved every piece of furniture in the room and that is was unsurprising that his friends would have similar tastes..she could have asserted that it was all for her, but she wasn't really clear that was the truth any more.
What was incredibly clear was that a series of events had set in motion a chain reaction in which they both no longer belonged to anyone in particular and were only uniquely comfortable alone together, and that was the worst part of all.
But bad, or wonderful, comforting or horrifying, it was the beginning of a dance and she felt just a little less like a ghost than she had.
And that was, well that was really something.