That Unwilling Comfort

It was summertime, a dusty, late August when everything was gilded with the foreknowledge of colder days to come. The party was outside, splashed gaudily across the lawns, everyone dazzling in pinks and yellows and greens. After six hours the gin and the vodka had made everyone’s eyes too bright, voice too loud, laughter too hollow. He wandered through the party, paper plate laden with potato salad, collecting swatches of conversation.

A man and a woman were arguing about philosophy, leaning into each other and yelling in German. The man threw his drink in her face and she socked him in the eye. Leslie pulled them apart. He handed the man to one of the staff and walked the woman to the carpark. She just sat in her car, slumped slightly forward, eyes unfocused and sad. “I was right,” she said. “I was so right. He just wouldn’t listen. He was wrong, he was so wrong…” Great, fat tears ran down her face and left dark splotches on the gravel.

Across the park there was a screech of burning rubber as the man left. “In our failures we are most ourselves,” said Leslie, and patted her awkwardly on the shoulder.