imageDeborah Zeitman

The lights on the floor spoke to her like bowling lanes. She desperately needed to stay out of the gutter.

"Orange and blue are complements," she told him.

"I've asked you not to speak of art school." He was testy that night. He hadn't wanted to come and she made him arrive early, far ahead of the crowd. With insistence of a stomach ailment, the man guarding the door agreed to early admission, "But you must come out when you're done. You can't go in just yet."

She decided that if she took a long time, she might disappear into the crowd and the doorman would forget, but where would that leave James? He was angry already, and forcing him to walk the lobby as she hid in the bathroom was certain to lead to further problems.

Dance was not his thing, but he did it to please her. It began with tango lessons that escalated to a season ticket subscription for the downtown performing arts complex. Had it stopped there, they may not have fought every Thursday at 6 p.m.

"It's becoming routine," he complained. "No one likes routine."

"Some people like routine," she countered. "Lots of people, in fact. My grandmother lived for routine, and her husband told her that the structure of their lives lead to their happiness."

"You mean your grandfather."

"We never had that kind of relationship."

"But it is fact."

"If you insist."

Not all of their arguments took this path. Some were linear and precise. "Parking costs too much," James complained. "We're wasting our resources."

"I don't see it that way. I'm sorry."

They didn't agree to disagree. They just stopped the conversation and climbed out of the car. The night breeze bit Jane's face, and she imagined that James had arranged the assault. She longed for the love they once shared and couldn't accept that they'd become a cliché. His socks on the bathroom floor did bother her, and he was right, she didn't enjoy sex with him the way she once did. But she wasn't going to give up. Not now. Not ever. Her tattooed ring finger told her it was forever. They just needed to rewrite the rules.

"We can change our subscription for next year," Jane offered.

"Change or cancel?" James asked.

"I don't know. You pick." She felt squished between the parallel ceiling and floor, and thought of lofty skies where only clouds stood between her and eternity. She vowed to spend more time outdoors and to buy an all-purpose parka despite her relationship to vanity.

"We can come back next year," James said. "You like it. Maybe some nights you'll bring a friend instead of me." All he had wanted was her offer of flexibility.

"Sylvia might come with me," said Jane.

"She'd enjoy it," said James.

They took their seats in the center section, and when the lights came down, Jane and James dissolved into music. 

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