Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Same as Any Woman


Apparently Zach had failed to notice his and Vida’s first “anniversary”—October fifteenth—when she first took him to her home in Georgetown and they had made love all night. The first year she had anticipated a celebration that never happened and recalled feeling hurt, then hopeful, then hurt. When it turned out that Zach hadn’t planned a belated but especially romantic escape for them, Vida’s expectations had bounced from the peak to the pit so many times, she hadn’t the energy to talk about it. Thinking about it made her sad and so she let it go.

(Click here for the first episode; here for the previous one.)

This year, to make certain Zach realized exactly how important it was to her, she began talking about their “second anniversary” in early September.

“You have six weeks to come up with a get-away or gift worthy of the entire two years we have shared together.”

Two years, really? Zach was surprised. Two years sounded like a long time.

“Surprising, Zach? Or do you mean unbelievable?”

“No, I believe you, Vida. It feels as if time doesn’t matter when we’re together.”

“Let me count the days,” she said, tossing a rolled up magazine at him, before storming off to collect papers and calendars.

“Vida, please. Put those away. Of course I believe you.” More than that, he understood: She wanted him to give her a significant gift.

Why the hell hadn’t he seen this coming? Because he had been fool enough to assume that his and Vida’s sophistication sky-rocketed them above middle-class conventions like “taking stock of their relationship.”

Yet here was powerful, entitled Vida whimpering about a commitment, or his lack of one. Once she dropped her bon vivant style, Zach could swear her home’s flattering lighting turned harsh.

“Tell me what you want, Vida.”

“The same as every woman who’s madly in love with a man. I want a future with you. Don’t tell me you’ve confused my public front with who I really am.”

She left him in her living-room full of upper-crust, colonial charm. Aware she had locked her bedroom door, Zach poured a glass of fine scotch, straight up. Taking long, fortifying sips, he paced her wide planked floors and studied yet again her collection of early American antiques.

Vida entered the main room, wearing a satin slip that cast different colors as she moved. Taking his hand, she led him to the closed door of her velvety, white bedroom and stood so close to him he felt the heat from her breasts, but nothing of their soft resiliency. Standing tall and steady, she held herself just shy of physical contact and lowered her face, eyes closed. Once she knew he had registered her expression—thoughtful, submissive—she opened her eyes wide and tilted her smooth, plump chin.

He pulled her against him, lifted her up, and opening the door, carried her to the bed. Afterwards, he lay beside her, kissing her shoulder. “Vida,” he whispered, “do you really want me to give up my family and marry you?”

Eyelids fluttering, lips momentarily pursed, she said, “I do and I don’t.” Wriggling back into her satin sheath, she rolled onto her side and arched an eyebrow. “What I really want, Zach, is for you to want me the same way I want you.”

He allowed no sound to escape. But shit! Did every woman demand more than any decent man could give her? After two happy years did all lovers grow dissatisfied?

Zach told Vida he loved her more often than anyone could possibly care to hear it. Except she and Beth both expected him to repeat the words continuously.

If Zach didn’t love Vida, he would have said good-bye long ago. True, tightly woven through the spell she cast over him was the luster of her friends in high places. Career aside, however, his sexual need for Vida equaled his need for air. And she knew it. They both knew he couldn’t control his need for her. Otherwise—he would have.

In honor of the day Vida had designated their “second anniversary,” Zach gave her a deep blue sapphire ring flanked by small diamonds. The ring had cost more than all the jewelry he had ever given Beth put together—over sixteen years of marriage. And Vida knew that, too, or at least she knew the ring was insanely expensive, enough to make her happy with him and with herself. She held her small hand up to the sunlight and to the mirror and under a reading lamp, saying again and again, “Have I told you how much I adore the ring, Zach?”

At an earlier phase, he might have thought she was being funny. Not now. They celebrated that night with lots of her favorite champagne and caviar, his treat. Later she cooked the live lobsters he had arranged to have delivered. She dropped both one-and-a-half-pounders in a huge vat of boiling water and they watched the shelled creatures turn bright pink. Once the lobsters had cooled a little, they devoured these with butter and lemon and more champagne.

The next morning, after coffee and muffins, Zach explained that during the next six months or so, he would not be working in Washington quite as regularly. His responsibilities in New York had grown more pressing, with his son about to become an Eagle Scout and his daughter’s various rebellions. He would attend Institute events on isolated days, consequently limiting his overnight stays—but only for six months or so.

Gambling that Vida would accept this with slight annoyance if any, he repeated the schedule, “For the next six months, that's all.”

She smirked, raising her morning coffee cup toward him. “A slight reconfiguration, then.” Perhaps the sapphire ring had thoroughly satisfied her. Or—perhaps he had been outwitted.

She stood up—“That’s fine, Zach”—and turning, walked barefoot across the room to look at fluffy white clouds rolling in low and thick in the backyard, gathering it seemed to Zach, unusually fast.
Shrugging with noticeable lack of concern, Vida said, “Really, Zach, don’t worry.”

(go here for the next episode.)

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