Thursday, September 21, 2006

“May I kiss you on the lips?” That’s what Dickie asks, away from prying eyes and out of earshot from his wife. He needn’t bother to ask—Bitsy is secretly thrilled to find him waiting for her outside the ladies’ lounge. During cocktails at the club, they neck on the couch inside the powder room. That night, her green blouse and pink skirt match the colors of the cushions perfectly. “It’s a Monet,” Dickie whispers huskily in her ear, as she finds herself eagerly pinned and sinking lower. “A work of art, just like you.” Afterwards, an angry hickey blooms on Bitsy’s neck, a bruised flower with a broken stem.

For months, the scandal is all anyone can discuss—at brunch, on the golf course and in the cotillion. “He’s such a charmer!” all her friends gush. Bitsy feels dizzy, intoxicated, lucky. Colors seem brighter, laughter flows, the conversation turns raucous. When Bitsy gets pregnant, Dickie’s wife files for divorce and decides to move her children to North Carolina to be closer to her parents.

After the club closes, Bitsy finds the couch in a church basement 17 years later. Transfixed, she thinks she might sink into its forgiving softness if she could, the cool, frayed fabric feels so intimate and knowing. Now that Dickie is sober, he doesn’t care about cocktails at the club, giggling girls, or Monet. Well, Bitsy would remember for him. And sit there, remembering.



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