Jackie realized it had been a while since she looked Anna in the eyes. She’d been working, scouring the restaurant. Purposely sitting in direct view of the entrance, watching who walked in and out of those doors. She eyed the hostess as she walked across the marbled dining room floor with a couple following behind her. She led them over to a two-person table nestled beside a wall where water cascaded down onto a row of glossy rocks. What a fluke Jackie thought; she knew the man. Not his name of course. She never bothered with names. But she could recognize his thick, peculiar widow’s peak anywhere.
Jackie turned to her plate, took the last bite of her salad, and peered up at Anna, who was blabbing up a storm about her third divorce. Groaning silently, Jackie nodded her head, faking concern and caring less. It seemed Anna couldn’t help but confide in Jackie all the personal details of the men she married. Jackie always wondered why her? Sure, she was the only child her mother ever had, but why disclose the intimate details of her relationships to her daughter? She hated it now and she especially hated it back then when her mother trapped her at Madison Avenue restaurants like this and blabbed on about her father.
“Your father is a handsome man,” Anna would say, but he never supports me, and he doesn’t appreciate me, and now it’s too late.” Then she’d run her stringy fingers through the front parts of her sandy bleached hair, her lips all pursed, her eyes adrift and dark like the shadowed bends of a river. Now here she was, again, the third time in sixteen-years swallowed up in an unruly swirl of self-pity, carrying on about another incompetent husband.
The waiter returned with two martinis and placed them down in front of Jackie and her mother. “Henry just doesn’t get me,” Anna carried on, slurping the top of her glass as elegantly as a lady could. Jackie reached for hers and took a big gulp, the vodka burning the back of her throat, her eyes watering like they always did when drinking martinis with her mother. She didn’t even like martinis. Definitely not wine. The vodka was okay, but she preferred a Cosmo, something with a splash of juice or soda. “You know he didn’t even come home last week,” Anna said.
The man with the widow’s peak closed the menu and placed it down on the table, amused with something his lady-friend said, when he happened to catch Jackie in the corner of his eye. He did a double take, squinting suspiciously, wondering how he knew her. He was certain he didknow her. Her face was familiar, but something about her was off. He couldn’t place her. He cleared his throat and turned his attention back to the lady across from him.