A Polka Dot Dress
Jean and I met at the no-tell motel. The kind where there are always more cars on the lot than rooms occupied. She arrived wearing the polka-dot dress. I hadn’t asked her to put it on. But then I’d worn a suit and a tie. My suit fit me well, good tailoring can do that. For a second I thought maybe it wasn’t the same dress, just like my suit wasn’t the suit, but it was. I knew it was. I wondered how Jean could possibly have done that, worn a twenty-year-old dress and have it fit. Like the dress, Jean, me and what we did had all happened the day before yesterday.
Our vehicles were parked at either end of the motel’s parking lot. Jean had a Japanese compact, my Beamer was far from new and not quite old enough to be a classic. As she walked towards me, the wind blew up and the dress clung to her legs. I felt it. The same thing I’d felt before I caught the Greyhound to the Marine Depot, when I hoped she’d last worn that dress. She had crows feet, when I got close up. Some powder on her face and what they used to call rouge on her lips, rather than the acrylic paint people had been wearing since it began to matter more how you looked on a selfie than in real life.
Yeah, it was all clumsy. We both leaned in and bailed out at the last second. No-one’s lips made contact with anything. Jean laughed, I caught sight of her crooked eye-tooth and my heart broke. She linked her arm through mine and steered us toward her automobile. We stopped when the coughing broke out. It took me a half-minute to get it under control.
‘I’ve got...’ we both started to speak. I doubted Jean was going to say what I was.
‘You first.’ She looked up at me out of the corner of her eye. I decided I wouldn’t tell her. Not today, maybe never. I shrugged.
She pulled me along to the compact. There was someone in the passenger seat. A girl, about 19 years old. Jean opened the door. The girl got out. She held out a hand.
‘Pleased ta meetcha...’
‘This is John, he… we used to know each other.’ Jean turned to me.
‘This is Joan.’
Joan smiled, she had braces. I wanted to tell her to keep the crooked eye-tooth.
I knew then I’d never tell either of them.