Imperfect Truth(9)

By: Ava Harrison

I’m awakened by Alexandre’s voice screaming through the apartment.

“Ava! What about dinner? Ava, did you hear me?” he asks as he strolls into the room.

“Sorry, Alex, I must have fallen asleep.”

“Well, what do you want for dinner?”

“Honestly, I don’t care.”

“I was thinking of ordering pizza and watching basketball.”

“Okay,” I say, my voice relieved that I wouldn’t have to keep up the charade through dinner. I pick up my Kindle. In this state of mind, eating is overrated.

THE TENSION IS growing around me.

As the days pass, our apartment becomes a ticking time bomb. Each comment misunderstood, each glance misconstrued. I’m in a constant state of apprehension. I walk on eggshells within the confines of my impeccable apartment. The house of glass I live in is starting to crack and falter. I fear the aftermath when it finally comes crashing down.

The perfect portrayal of our unbalanced life comes to the forefront as we sit down to dinner that Thursday evening. The table is set to a degree that even an etiquette expert would be proud of. The flatware is exactly where it should reside at the outside and then working inward as the meal courses progress. Our crystal glass stemware is above and to the right of the dinner plate; the bread and butter plate sits above it and to the left. Perfection.

The first time I had my mother in law over for dinner was a disaster. The flatware was in the incorrect order and the bread plate was certainly not in the right place. The look of disgust on her face…let’s just say, I wouldn’t be making that mistake again. I can still hear her voice in my ear as she spoke to her husband in a not so hushed tone about me…

“How can you teach manners to a woman who obviously has no class, Maxwell? Can you imagine if the Stuarts had accompanied us as planned? What an embarrassment that would have been.”

The aromatic smell of the Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and Escarole and Apple Salad we had catered in permeates through the thick air in our formal dining room. I unfold my napkin and place it on my lap.

Once finished with the first course, I turn to Alexandre to tell him the news I received. Earlier that day, I got an email from Très Chic Magazine. They wanted to interview me; they wanted to ask me questions pertaining to the types of books the affluent housewife would read. It was an honor to be chosen, and I was delirious with delight.

“Alexandre, I have some amazing news,” I announce, my voice rising with excitement. “Are you listening to me?” I exclaim.

"Hold on,” he answers as he continues to text.

“Alex, I really want to tell you something. It’s important.”

“Now really isn’t a good time.”

“Oh for crying out loud, is it ever a good time?” I breathe in deeply as I feel my dejected thoughts turn to anger. “Who are you even texting?”

“It’s nothing,” he mumbles.

“Well, if it’s nothing, why can’t you answer me?”

“God Ava, it’s work. Want to see it?” He angrily flails the phone in my face. “Happy? Okay, what? What is so important that you had to interrupt me?”

“Nothing, Alexandre, forget it.” My vision blurs as tears form in my eyes.

I concentrate on cutting my meat with precision as we sit in complete silence. The only sound comes from the gears turning, the pendulum swinging, and the faint tick-tock of the grandfather clock that stands at a towering height in the corner.

As soon as it is feasible, I place my napkin on the left of my plate, signaling the meal is over. Excusing myself from the dinner table, I decide that the fresh air might do me some good, so I decide to take a walk.

The night is vibrating with motion. Lights dance in the distance as the cabs rush by. The sound of laughter permeates the air as young professionals gather outside the local drinking hole to enjoy an after work libation. I smile, remembering what it was like looking at the city with innocence. Their eyes dance with wonder as they experience the cities “firsts,” the right of passage of becoming a true New Yorker…

Get your first underpaid job then lose your first underpaid job. Rent a ridiculously overpriced apartment then be forced to put up a fake wall to rent out a ‘room’ to afford said apartment. Eat pizza at 2:30 in the morning. Fall in love, fall out of love.