"Why do you have a dead girl on your wall?" He asks.
"It's Shakespeare's Ophelia. Millais. It's a painting of her suicide." I say softly.
"I've never seen it before," he says.
"I know, I just bought it." I answer. He stares at the painting, and I watch him look. His face is. . .
"She's beautiful," he says.
"And innocent," I reply.
"Yes." He turns away, uncomfortable. Our eyes meet.
"You're leaving me," I say.
"What?" He looks shocked, and relieved.
"I know," I say as if talking to a child. "I know about her, you don't need to explain."
He doesn't know what to say, because I have taken his answer from him. He walks to the door saying he has to leave. I don't follow him. He stops suddenly and turns to me.
"I don't know who your are anymore. You've changed. You're so filled with your stories you don't see me anymore."
"I'm a writer," I say softly.
"I know, and a good one,
but I can't compete with your stories anymore.
"I didn't know," I say even softer, maybe mouthing the words.
"Sometimes you look at me as if I'm not even here, but other times. . . you see too much. You have a gift, one that I don't understand can't live with. I have to leave."
He is quiet. An image of a beautiful woman sipping champagne among strangers comes into my mind. I see her beautiful lips, feel the wine caress them. The taste is divine. Her eyes wander to the staircase, they are blue and worried. He will come back, I think bitterly, you won't be alone. He knows that I have seen her and his face hardens. He says, I have no right to pry, she is his business, and his alone. I'm sorry, I tell him.
"I have to leave," he says again, then is gone.
Later that night. I am strewn across my bed, intoxicated by my despair. Three bottles of left over champagne lie near my feet. I am too tired to stand, so I lay with my head hanging off the bed. I try calling him to me, but he is silent. I begin a story in my mind. . . he drowns a horrible death in champagne, and I and the other woman stand back and laugh.
I begin another story. . . He is making love to the woman and suddenly he tastes champagne on her lips. When he opens his eyes, it is me he sees, not her. I begin another story. . . my mind wanders. Why was I celebrating earlier today?
Suddenly an image appears in my mind. They are in a room drinking champagne, he is stretched out on her couch, comfortable, familiar. She is wearing nothing but a pale green, silk robe. She is smiling, happy, because he came back to her. He proposes a toast. To what? She asks. To us, he answers.
Just as their glasses clink
together, I will her to throw her champagne in his face. She does. He
jumps up, confused, sputtering; she looks scared. It's not my fault, she
says. He walks away upset, to change his clothes. She is alone. I smile
through the pain in my head and the image disappears, sometimes the curse
is a blessing. The satisfaction from their anger at each other is short-
lived though. They will make up, and all will be well again.
She sits up and looks around
the room, silently, uncertainly. She tries to stand and walk, but she
sways. One step, another, another, slowly, hesitantly, as if she hadn't
walked in very long time. She sees the mirror and goes toward it, hands
poised in front ready to touch the glass. She catches the painting's reflection
and turns suddenly to face me; we lock eyes. She understands now. She
walks toward me slowly; I see fear in her once sightless, peaceful eyes.
Forgetting. Ophelia turns away
from me and wanders around my room touching