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On the way there, the conversation is subdued. Driving on the interstate, I pass a truck pulling an open trailer on which is tied a small, shiny black car with rear wheels so big it is raked forward at an impossible angle. “What is that?” I ask. Patrick looks up from finding directions on his Blackberry, craning his neck to watch it pass. “That,” he says with a pointed pause, “that is an embarrassment.” I burst out laughing, grateful for the break in the almost palpable tension between us. This is why I love Patrick. The way he says things just cracks me up. He directs me off the interstate and down the country roads. The spring bloom is pretty much done, but one tree still has impressive upright flowers, vaguely phallic and very fertile. I ask Patrick what the tree is, but he doesn’t know. “Jill would know,” he says quietly and I know he is right. We both know that we will forget to ask her when we see her and that moment is coming up fast. Is he as nervous as I am about the three of us being together? I suspect he is anxious to see her, after being apart all week. I flick back a pang of jealousy and pull into a parking space on the side of the road near the gallery. Patrick says, “Oh, and by the way, Gary and Eva don’t know what our relationship is. I’ll tell them you are a friend and I have been helping you with a computer problem at your house.” I nod. It’s fine with me. Otherwise, it’s just way too awkward. Patrick is putting his name on the gallery’s mailing list when I spot Jill, waving at us from across the yard. I wave back, surprised to find myself happy to see her, relieved to have this moment over with. She looks relaxed and happy in a t-shirt and jeans. I go over and hug her first. I feel her resist ever so slightly, as if she is afraid to smell him on me. We pull apart and Patrick comes up and takes her face in his two hands. They gaze at one another as if drinking in the sight of water in a desert. I feel a loosening in my gut, a letting go, and it feels surprisingly easy. I extend a hand to Eva and then Gary, who are standing nearby admiring the sculpture, introducing myself simply as Audrey, with no explanation. They accept this without question. We walk around slowly, admiring a thrusting metal sculpture. A card contains the name of the artist and the unlikely title of the piece: String Theory. There is nothing stringy about it. It is solid sheets of metal. Jill comments on the title and Gary launches into a complicated explanation of quantum physics. Patrick and I avoid looking at each other and we take positions at the greatest possible distance from each other. I am done


Vol. I, Issue I - December 2013  
Vol. I, Issue I - December 2013