Time: April 30th, 4:06 AM
Place: The Bedroom, Jericho, Long Island
On the morning of April 30th, the day she was to meet Jonathan Marston, she awoke startled. She was sweaty and frightened. Her dream disturbed her. She remembered it in detail — colors, words spoken, temperature and time. She sat upright in bed trembling and remembering.
In this dream, she was floating above two men. Her wings were full-feathered but light when flying. Below her were two figures that looked like Jonathan and Bart — earthbound. She was young and lithe, observing two beautiful men who were tan and slender. She soared under a blue-warm sky and saw the men as if she were viewing a flipbook changing scenes: laughter, voices, tennis — score, “love/nothing.” Flip, the men were skiing treacherous slopes together; flip, flip, playing ice hockey together; flip, squash, swimming, sailing and drinking; flip, wine glasses, champagne glasses and beer, clinking glasses louder and louder, click, click, as if in a crowded beer hall. The cacophony of the sound had a deafening echo. Suddenly she screamed as her wings folded in front of her and she could no longer fly. She could no longer open them. They were too heavy to carry. She was catapulted to earth. Grounded in darkness. The men had vanished. She was alone, protected only by the cushioning of her feathers. She grabbed the side of her mattress and bolted up half-awake. She had to separate from the dream. Her drowsy mind played early-morning memory tricks.
She saw herself as an actress on a stage playing a part. ACT I: Sex with Bart — Never gratifying. She had used it as a tool to secure a husband and to have children. ACT II: Sex for Pleasure — She disliked the act itself from the moment she had lost her virginity to Jonathan. ACT III: Self-stimulation — She loved her own desire and her own imagination. She found stimulating herself the most pleasurable. The rest was performance. EPILOGUE: She had to face the lack of sexual mutuality with Bart. It occurred to her that Bart was a part of this play, too. He, in truth, as actor-husband, was never aroused by his actress-librarian-wife. Bart possibly wanted what Jonathan had gotten, her very self, her. She had dismissed this circuitous route to Bart’s latent homosexuality as Psychology 101. But now she wondered if she was the way for Bart to enter Jonathan? After all, she was deflowered by her husband’s very best friend.
She loved reading Freud in her college psych course as much as she loved reading fiction. But she denied herself an analytic self in adulthood. In the book club, when she suggested Freud, they said he was outdated and anti-feminist. In the middle of this insightful night, Sigmund was a presence.
Her life became clear to her. Bart loved her as a friend and as the mother of their children, but never really as a woman. Face it. Bart was athletic, but never “a manly man.” Maybe that’s why she didn’t expect his infidelity and was so shocked by the condom. Yes, sex was never a high priority for them — a vacation obligation, maybe, or an ode to the proof of fecundity.
Jonathan and Bart were inseparable in college. She remembered Bart telling her that he ran into Jonathan and they had a good chat. How was it that Jonathan didn’t remember Bart? Jonathan lied about the reunion. Certainly, they were in contact. What kind of contact? Did Jonathan tell Bart they were having dinner together? She told Bart she was meeting Lucille for a girl’s night out.
‘Let’s get on with it,’ she thought, as the sleep left her eyes. I think I get it. I can see …
Time: April 30th, 7 PM
Place: The Helmsley Park Lane Dining Room
J.M.: We’re catching the zeitgeist, we’re going green.
She: It’s so odd to meet up after so many years.
J.M.: It all goes so fast; I wonder why we lost touch.
She: Family, jobs, other interests. We live our life in chapters like a book.
J.M.: You were always so smart.
She: Book smart. Good with books; dumb with life.
J.M.: Why say that?
She: I figure things out late. Like love, marriage and sex. Like Bart.
J.M.: What about Bart?
She: You know … you know … like, you were so close.
J.M.: So close. Yes.
She: You did see him at the reunion, he told me.
J.M.: I did, yes.
She: Why did you lie?
J.M.: I thought I should.
She: Because you were closer than friends? Because you are … lovers.
J.M.: Bart told you …
She: Yes, in his way, he told me.
J.M.: What was it he told you?
She: He didn’t tell me, exactly. I knew. I know. Did you tell him we were meeting?
She: I figured. So, I lied to him, he lied to me, and you lied to me. I get it.
J.M.: What do you get?
She: That you and Bart have been together and have loved each other for many years.
J.M.: You know this for sure?
She: Oh, Jonathan, the pieces fit. Take the tie you’re wearing …
J.M.: The tie? This tie?
She: Yes. Because I bought it for Bart at a one-of-a-kind charity sale from a Jericho designer years ago. Oh, who cares, Jonathan? I know and you know I know.
J.M.: It’s beautiful.
She: Thanks, I have good taste in ties … and husbands.
J.M.: Yes, Bart and I get together … occasionally.
She: So do Bart and I. Jonathan, are you gay all the time? You’ve been married.
J.M.: I tried not to be gay; it would have been easier. Lucille and then Beatrice; I love women, I need men.
She: I understand, Jonathan. I do. Has it only been Bart?
J.M.: Maybe …
She: None of my business, I guess. Jonathan, why didn’t you and Bart run off together and be a couple?
J.M.: It was the wrong timing. The 1970s.
She: Right timing now. It’s quite the thing.
J.M.: Let’s cut to the chase. Bart loves you and the kids. You love Bart.
She: I guess, in my own fashion. We’re vested.
I think I have to go, Jonathan. This is not an affair to remember. God, I love that movie. (She begins to choke up.) I’ll watch that movie when other couples are planning their future and Bart works late with you in his arms.
J.M.: Bart won’t leave you.
She: That’s not the point. I could leave him.
J.M.: He needs you and Bart Jr., Sam and Lila.
She: Jonathan, what would you do if you were me?
J.M.: I don’t know; I’m not you. I’m not sure what I would do …
She: We both have a piece of Bart we won’t give up.
J.M.: You’re amazing.
She: I’m stuck. I hurt.
J.M.: Me, too. For what I’ve done to you and for what I feel myself, in spite of myself and because of myself.
Place: Bedroom, Jericho, Long Island
Bart is in bed.
She pulls the car into the driveway.
She opens the fridge; she gets a Diet Coke.
She enters the bedroom.
She puts her new outfit over the chair — jacket, pants and blouse.
She: Beautiful. She’s happy at last with her proctologist husband.
Bart: I’m glad you saw her. You look weary.
She: Very weary. Bart, you know I saw Jonathan. I am upset. Life is hard, Bart, but what do we do?
Bart: Come to me.
Bart: Never. Will you leave me?
She: I need you. We’ve been through so much together and I guess Jonathan is a part of who we are. In sickness and in health …
Bart: Yes, until death do us part.
They fall asleep in each other’s arms; both lights on their separate night tables shining all night. She knows finally what the truth is. She doesn’t know why she feels at peace. It was the way they were; it’s the way they are, she and Bart, a couple. Somehow, on this night and in his embrace, it doesn’t seem to matter. Knowing is a comfort. The truth is a comfort. They are married to each other. If he could live with this, she wondered if she could too. She and Bart … a couple.