in the bedroom
Tapping at my phone, I start the music. It's Barber - Adagio for strings, a piece George plays when I tell him to pick from my playlist. The sadness matches the rain. I might as well just go all the way down the rabbit hole today. A knock sounds at my door and I reach for my robe, but the door swings open before I can cover myself. It's not like George...
Charlie, my assistant, blushes and hovers with awkward pose in the doorway trying not to look at my flesh. Other than George, he appears the least likely to ever touch me. I let my robe drop and prop myself on a mass of pillows, watching Charlie place files and papers on my writing desk.
"You told me to arrive for a writing session by nine and not to be late. I'm sorry to..." he begins to say, but I interrupt.
"Don't apologize for everything all the time. It's not an attractive quality, Charlie." I grab a pack of cigarettes from the nightstand and wait for him find the lighter and spark a flame for me.
Taking a deep drag, I close my eyes and try to clear my mind of all the negative thoughts of the last few days. All the questions of my husband and what he did to me as a teenager fill me with rage. I want to grab each person that asks by the throat and scream it's none of your fucking business.
"Would you like me to send for George to help you dress? Or should I send for the doctor? Are you unwell?"
"Forget the fucking doctor. I'm depressed, not sick. Get the whiskey bottle from my writing desk. And forget the glass. I don't need it."
Crushing the cigarette in the ashtray, I watch Charlie rush to my desk and retrieve the bottle. He pulls the stopper and hands it to me. Taking a deep drink that spreads warmth through my body, I nod towards the chair next to the bed. He sits and puts a small book in his lap as if waiting for me to give him permission to do his job.
"Get on with it," I say, taking another mouthful of whiskey. Tears cover my vision as Charlie opens the book and clears his throat to speak.
"I don't understand the ending of your new book. The wedding scene. It seems to contradict..." He pauses and glances at the whiskey bottle. The young lad needs courage. I offer it to him and he drinks a large quantity.
"The wedding happened you know. I am married. What is so difficult to understand?"
His eyes dance around the room, avoiding my stare. Why can't he speak? Do I scare him? Tapping my hand on the bed next to me, I wait for him to understand my meaning. Rising from the chair, he eases onto the bed and takes a long time to scoot towards me. I pull two cigarettes from the pack and light both, extending one towards him.
"I read Ray's book."
Exhaling, I prop myself on an elbow to watch him squirm. A light breeze of familiar anger flows over me and I wonder if he will have the guts to say it, to speak the words.
"Did he molest you?"
Putting the cigarette on the ashtray, I take another drink of whiskey. And then another. "Do you know what happened to the last man that asked me that question?"
"Yes. I do, but if I'm going to help with your books, I have to know the truth. Tell me about his novel Preface to a Suicide."