(Dear Reader, have you missed any earlier scenes? Catch up with this link: Stalker.)
Portland, Oregon 1998
A perfect moment. Baby languished in her backyard, listening to the fountain nestled in the wall that James built for her from rocks he lugged in from the Clackamas River. She watched the sky turn as the sun began to set, as the moment began to shift, as she breathed in the air from her blooming late-season azaleas and early roses. A perfect moment of relaxation and beauty. Her lovely world of the house, the garden; the life with the reliable man. Finally, she could relax. Stop trying so hard. Enjoy.
James came through the kitchen door and sat across from her, at the white round table by the waterfall and the hummingbird feeders. She was surprised to see him looking right at her. He was still. He wasn’t filling the bird feeders, or watering the lawn, or trimming the hedges. He was looking right at her, and she was startled to think that surprised her. She met his eyes. She met him with a full searching gaze. And for once James did not give her his frozen poker face. No, his eyes said something now. What was it? Pity? Shame? Apology. All of those. Baby felt her stomach tighten. James had never looked that way before. Was he about to say something? What was this about? No, he just kept looking at her, in that pathetic way.
She broke the moment. She looked away, regaining her confidence. She was in control. She wasn’t going to ask. She was above this. Above this look. She was mistaken, no doubt. Baby picked up her book, picked up her glass, and retreated indoors.
Only a month later did she remember his look. Perhaps he was going to tell her then? Was that why she went indoors? She didn’t want to know? Nothing was the same after that moment.
. . . .to be continued