|Jul/Aug 2000 spotlight|
Before we slice up the cheesecake, I knock my wine glass off the table, and the first thing out of Jerusha's mouth is, "You're never careful." Her lopsided upper lip starts to twitch.
I say, "Shut up."
Her eyes squint. "Don't tell me to shut up. Hand me the sponge."
I go for the rubber gloves under the sink. "If you sponge it before we pick up the glass you'll get cut. Just bring the broomó"
Jerusha tips back in her chair. She crosses her arms over her breasts. She looks good in fruit-print stretch pants and black tank top, but I wouldn't touch her with rubber gloves the way she's been acting this week. "Whatever," she says. Her lip curves under her teeth and pops out twitching.
I stretch the glove around my hand and kneel to pick up the pieces of glass. She's not moving, just pouting in her chair. "Come on," I say. "Aren't you going to help?"
Her chair lands on all four legs. "You're fucking someone else, aren't you?" Her hazel eyes are seething with jealousy.
"Just get the sponge."
She doesn't move, so I go for the sponge myself. Jerusha stands and walks toward me. "I'm not a child."
"No, you're not."
"Don't patronize me."
"I saw your face."
"And I live in my face, so I should know I wasn't patronizingó"
"Your eyebrows did that thing they do when you patronize me."
"I'm warning you. Leave the eyebrows out of it, Jerusha."
"You have no idea what your face looks like when you talk. Your eyes get thisó"
"You always say I'm angry when I'm not."
"Of course you are."
I wipe up the wine with the sponge. There wasn't much left. I'm checking myself to see if I'm drunk. I'm not. I feel fine. Clear. Crystal clear. I walk over to the sink and squeeze every last drop of wine out of the sponge. I run the hot water and squeeze the sponge under it a few times. It strikes me as silly to end with a broken wine glass.
Jerusha stands behind me with the broom in her hand. "Here's the broom," she says. "Make sure there aren't any little shards left."
That line almost makes me laugh. I hold it in though. Her face is dead serious now. I put my hand on her arm and say, "What's the matter?"
She shakes her head. There's a tear at the corner of her eye. It's so dramatic, I want to tell her to knock it off. Instead I pull her close. She's stiff, though, and she doesn't fall into me. A faint breath, a whisper of a laugh, slips from my nose. She jabs me hard in the gut with the broom handle and leaves me in the kitchen with the entire cheesecake to myself.