Thursday, October 13, 2016

Saying a Prayer for the Desperate Hearts Tonight

I’m not sure what I expected entertainment to consist of at a nude feminist retreat, but a female-led Aerosmith cover band wasn’t it. As the lead singer bellows out a very Steven-Tyler-esque wail, I reflect that they’re actually pretty good. I was just expecting something more along the lines of the Indigo Girls.

“Jackie!” my friend Trish yells in my ear. “I’m going to get more beer. Do you want some?”

I shake my head and hold up my clear, plastic cup. It’s still about three quarters of the way full. I can never keep up with Trish, so I don’t even try anymore. Don’t try to watch her as she walks away either; the nudity here is not the sort you’re supposed to gawk at. Instead I watch the woman on stage.

She’s pale and freckled, as though maybe she would be a redhead if she didn’t shave absolutely every hair off her body. Or maybe she has some sort of condition that leads to hairlessness…

“Love in an Elevator” comes to a close and there are scattered calls from the audience. There’s a few hundred people here, which is more than I anticipated.

“Jackie?” I barely hear the voice saying my name under the sound of applause and the opening chords of “Janie’s Got a Gun.” Even without turning, I know who said it. I will never forget her voice.

Swallowing hard, I turn my head and try to smile a smile that tells the world my heart is doing just fine, thank you. “Hey, Di. Long time, no see.”

And last time I did see her, she was driving away from me, her Kia Sportage overloaded with the things she took from our house… Why did she come up to me now? I would never have known she was here if she hadn’t.

Her green eyes stare straight into mine, and I know she can see that my attitude is a big, fat lie. She knows I can’t look at her and not want to cry. But she stands there making me look at her anyway.

Someone I’ve never met hovers beside her, watching the band more than us. I can tell she’s not disinterested in what we’re saying though.

“This is Anna,” Di tells me, and the woman looks over with a faint smile. “My wife.”

If my first try at smiling failed, there’s no way this attempt succeeds.

“Nice to meet you,” I lie. “I gotta go get some more beer.”

On stage, the singer belts out, “Run away from the pain!” Seems like good advice to me.

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