She took deep breaths and put her car in gear, slowly still, examining each passing house, each tree, as if to learn its color. The honking behind her pushed her back up to speed.
What else? She wondered, back home, staring at the large floral print chair she’d been so thrilled to buy. It sat next to the couch like irrelevant punctuation. What made her happy? Love, of course, that bursting fruit, always at the head of the table… Beauty…as in the arch of light, the ache of a song, or the twisting of words that feels like flight. Both had brought her to poetry and painting so many years ago. And poetry, art, music, all were servants of a whimsical muse who touched the veil of the Divine. A chair was a poor substitute. There was that, and then…something…
Late that night in the quiet of the kitchen, Marji sat in front of her computer. She scrolled through his profile, his photos, searching for evidence, clues…Who was he? What did he know? How had she become a mound of sand that, with a question, he could crumble?
“I don’t know,” she finally typed. “I feel empty.” She closed her computer and sat in the grey until she was too tired to sit.
She imagined Machu Pichu when she saw the hiking boots and couldn’t resist. She found excuses to wear them, the girls’ soccer games, lunch with her friends. The boots were stiff and heavy, nothing like the fancy flip flops or designer slides she usually wore.
“You going hiking?” Liza commented dryly at their Wednesday lunch.
“I like to stay ahead of the trends,” Marji snapped back.
“And you are,” Liza was equally bitchy.
“They’re fine,” Emily defended Marji. “An interesting look.”
Marji picked at her salad but couldn’t eat. “I need to do something different…Maybe I’ll volunteer at the homeless shelter.”
“I’ve worked with some of those people. You have no idea what you’re getting into…” Liza jiggled her drink.
“Is everything all right?” Emily smiled encouragement before turning to glare at Liza.
“I can’t do this anymore. This…” She glanced around the restaurant and shrugged. “The lunches and shopping and gym and coffee and manicures and spas…You know, I don’t think I actually do anything. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“You’re going through a midlife crisis. You’re about the right age.” Liza nodded knowingly.
“No. I don’t think so. It’s something else.”
“What is it? What’s going on?” Emily asked.
Marji took finished off her drink. “I don’t know… Maybe I’m having a nervous breakdown…”
“I know a shrink,” Liza opened her purse and began searching through its contents.
“It’s not that… You know, I was thinking, I used to paint. I studied art in college…I loved it…But I haven’t done it in a long time…I don’t know why…”
“You have a lot on your plate.” Emily passed her a mint.
“Do I? I’m not sure I do anything.”
“You can’t be serious. You just single-handedly raised enough money to save the art museum,” Emily was shocked.
“I had one party. And it was catered…I bought a dress, that’s what I did, and served some wine…I need to change my life. Something’s wrong…I don’t even know what it is.” Marji finished her drink.