I called Jane in my lunch hour today.
‘Jane. What would you like tonight, more than anything in the world?’ It was a simple question. Or so I thought.
She thought about it for only a second, ‘No … you … you couldn’t could you?’
‘Well yes. I do have connections you know.’
I could hear a strangely rapid breathing on the other end of the line. Jane was trying to compose herself.
‘What’s wrong?’ What had I said?
‘Nothing’s wrong. No no that’s fine.’
Her excitement elevated even further. I could hear some clanking in the background.
‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m just looking through my wardrobe.’
‘Well,’ I continued, ‘see you at about seven then…’
‘Seven it is.’
Could she be that excited about Thai?
Standing in the corridor, trying to find my new keys I thought she better like Thai. I had walked six blocks to get this stuff and now the grease was soaking through the bag.
Jane must have heard me shaking the contents of my bag out on to the floor because she came to the door. I could hear her fumbling with the deadlock.
‘It’s just me Jane,’ I said as I knelt down to pick up the contents of my bag. The door flew open. Before me was a pair of royal blue string strap shoes, with heels with the thinness of a pencil.
‘Nice new shoes Ja-’ I looked up. There was an accompanying outfit to go with these shoes. A silk royal blue neglege-type evening dress that flowed past her ankles. Wow. The most astonishing feature of this whole scene was Jane’s transformed face. The puffiness under her eyes had been seamlessly covered by skin-tone foundation. But her smile was the crowning glory. It outshone all her features and was the first smile I had seen from Jane since William’s death. It was as if the sadness of months had finally been unleashed and let go. And now unveiled was a shiny new woman, brilliant, dazzling.
The smile dropped almost as suddenly as it appeared. Its loss was tragic.
‘Where is he?’ she said, looking beyond me to the empty hallway, smoothing her silk evening gown to her all too diminishing form.
I finished dumping my things into my handbag and looked behind me.
‘Oh right. Did you expect Marshall to join us now?’
I walked past Jane into the dimly lit dining room. She had set up the table with her grandmother’s embroidered tablecloth and Royal Doulton dinner set. A great glass bowl with floating candles and jasmine flowers made up the centrepiece.
‘Jane, this is stunning. You’ve gone to so much trouble.’
She moved slowly into the room. Face down she said, ‘He’s not coming is he?’
‘Yes, of course he is Jane, Marshall would never give up the chance to eat free food. Free Thai food at that.’
A look of fury covered Jane’s face, ‘Thai food!’
She seemed almost lost for words. Her eyes canvassed the floor for them, ‘Thai food?’
I reached out to touch her wildly convulsing face. ‘What’s wrong? What is it?’
Her eyes clouded over with tears. It was as if she was waking from a beautiful dream. The droplets fell as she gasped for breath.
‘William doesn’t like Thai food.’