All she can hear are the sighs of cars and the rumble of trains and the sounds of everyone hurrying through the cold. Peter calls out to her from his study, but she is immersed in her book–hurrying to keep step with Hercule Poirot. His stumpy little legs move him curiously fast over the buckled pavement of a seedy street and she isn’t sure yet where they are going, but she hurries after him, as much for a means of escape from Peter as curiosity over where he is going and what he will find once he gets there. The lives depicted in the book she is reading are a way to avoid her everyday life with Peter as surely as hanging around bars where she would know, if she thought it out, that she will never really meet anyone to replace him with.
This man she chose for her husband calls out again, this time louder. “Susan! There’s a gun missing from your case. Did you forget and leave it in the car?”
Damn. She had forgotten to take it out of the tool box. Peter is in the doorway now. No way can she get it out of the garden bin and back into its locked case in his den tonight without him seeing her. Her mind spins as she tries to come up with a plausible excuse for the missing gun.
“The action jammed at the range today. Luckily, Randy from the gun shop was there and he said he’d take it in for repairs for me.”
He didn’t answer, but she could hear him shuffling down the hall, rattling papers in front of his nose as he walked, again restored to his potential fortunes. As she returned to her book, she looked down and realized she was wearing her flouncy skirt. Not appropriate. Why hadn’t Peter mentioned it? Her arms were bare, which meant she was in one of her tight spaghetti strap tops. But actually, she didn’t have to worry on Peter’s account, because she realized now she wasn’t at home. She was on a dance floor, dancing close with a man who was missing two teeth. He dipped her, pulling her close against his chest and bending over with her as she bent back. His breath was not unpleasant and with the exception of the missing front teeth, he was a handsome man. But although the coloring and features were right and the body mass in all the right places, there was some lack–of intelligence, perhaps–in his face. Or maybe what was missing was integrity–something that had to be there for her to be attracted to a man. Peter had had it once.
Susan snapped to attention, aware that she’d nodded off. She looked for the gap-grin man, confused for a few seconds between dreams and reality. She missed him, a little, when she became fully awake. She wondered how she would have gotten out of that last dip. Would he have pulled her up again? Surely he’d have to. What kind of dance partner drops his partner after the dip? She laughed then, aware that she seemed to be caught up in her dreams more than reality.
Her few little adventures. Where did they get her, really? She recognized that most of it was revenge against Peter. But of what good was revenge that he did not know about and that did nothing to change her life in any meaningful manner? She decided then and there that there would be changes. Her next sojourn would not be to any of the dives she had visited in the past. Nor would she wear her usual tacky disguise. From now on, at least for awhile, her rare escapes would be conducted strictly in first class. She’d go shopping tomorrow. Drop her emergency clothes from the trunk off at some Goodwill store and up her ante.
When she again picked up her book, she no longer felt the cold chill of London. She strode arm and arm with Hercule, the shoreline exposed by half-moonlight. The hydrofoil loomed up before them. They crossed the channel at midnight.
Beginning and final lines from Anthony Doerr, “All the Light We Cannot See.” Thanks to Candace Spence for furnishing the first and last lines in this chapter.
Does someone have tomorrow’s lines for me? Just choose a favorite book and tell me the title, author and first and last lines in a comment. If I don’t receive one, the book is finished!!!!