Trivial Pursuits {?} - Chapter 13, Part 2

Eos—the one from the pool at Park La Brea. And for the first time in as far back as she could remember, Amy smiled, glad for the unexpected company.

“What are you doing here?” the two women cawed, almost in unison.

Eos went first, explaining how she was attending the wedding of her friend Rhoda, down in the Palm Room. “I’m totally happy for her,” she said, “but I just had to escape for a while, you know what I’m saying?”

Amy nodded. Though she hadn’t been totally happy for anyone lately, she understood how those things sometimes played out.

“And anyway, this wedding cost me the guy of my dreams,” Eos continued. “If anyone gets pissed off that I’ve disappeared for 30 minutes, well fuck them.”

Amy admired the way Eos talked—her youthful confidence and bravado. She wanted to know more about how the wedding had ruined Eos’ relationship, but didn’t feel like scrounging for more than the girl was willing to part with. Though the circumstances that had brought the two women together might have appeared like one, Amy knew this wasn’t a daytime soap; there were boundaries that needed to be respected in real life, at least for the one doing the listening.

Of course, when it came Amy’s time to explain what she was doing at the hotel bar, only she, and the alcohol, would decide when enough was enough. As it so happened, she felt more comfortable talking to this complete stranger than her husband, Lynette and Beth, all rolled into one. And she found herself opening up to Eos and telling her everything, from the very beginning, including details about how they tried to raise PJ, and how much money they’d spent on baby proofing the house, going well beyond the usual electrical outlet covers and cabinet locks—installing anti-scald devices in every showerhead and faucet, and even a breathing monitor under her crib mattress. And all for what?

By the end of the story—when she got to the part about the dry wedding and her feelings about Shelly, she checked to make sure Eos was still with her, and, said “So, I feel like I’ve prevented what was meant to be.”

Eos, who’d been nodding and sighing along in sympathy through it all, took Amy’s last words in, along with a big breath, as if she were waiting to see if Amy had anything else to add, and said, “Well, but I mean how can you really ever know what’s meant to be? The fact that all of these things have happened might indicate that they were meant to be. You know what I’m saying?”

Amy rather liked this argument; it both made sense and let her off the hook. Really, what better evidence was there that something was meant to happen than the fact that it had happened? But no; in this drunken fate vs. free will debate, she had to acknowledge the role played by her personal choices.

“Or, maybe my life is an example of what happens when you do nothing to change things,” her voice was surprisingly emphatic. “When you let your life just happen to you.”

“Hmm, well, you might have a point there,” Eos said, nodding. “Let me ask you this: is there anything you can do at this point to take action? You know what I mean?”

Amy shrugged. She certainly knew what Eos meant. “I have been rehearsing something for the past hour,” she admitted.

“Well, then,” Eos said, treating Amy to her sly, playful smile one last time as she signaled Hernan for the check. “I think it might be show time.”

Back at the banquet room, some awkward, wooden attempts at dry dancing were underway. As Amy walked across the room, she could feel the heavy resistance of fear pushing against her, as if she were walking underwater in jeans. The claustrophobic, erratic movements of the dancing couples opened up a vast, churning pit of anxiety in her stomach, where the evening’s alcoholic intake sloshed around in waves. Her shaking hands seemed to be bearing the full brunt of her nervous system, whereas her legs, upon which she was relying to walk effectively, felt rubbery and dulled. She stood still and tried to quell the nausea with deep breaths, but even breathing seemed to tickle her gag reflex. She knew she was in bad shape, and she wished Eos hadn’t had to get back to her friend’s wedding. She could have used some help.

She decided to sit down on a chair adorned in a beautiful satin chair cover that looked more expensive than her dress. The chair reminded her of a spurned, sulky prom date, and its wasted ruffles and sash started to depress her. So she stood slowly and continued her hobbling progress toward the catharsis that would make things right.

By the time she reached Shelly on the other side of the room, Amy’s face was covered in a thin sheen of feverish-looking sweat and her knees were trembling. Her entire body seemed seized by a revolt against the toxins she’d dumped into it. She knew she looked crazy, and considered walking away, but she’d convinced herself that this was the brave thing to do, and she was going to do it.


And Shelly spun around almost exactly as Amy had rehearsed, her eyes widening in the very same surprise. “Amy!” She smiled warmly, and reached out to hug her. Amy knew she must reek of alcohol, and she thought she felt Shelly’s embrace stiffen slightly with the realization.

She stepped back and looked at Shelly, and opened her mouth to say her piece, but it turned out that the moment didn’t belong to her after all; it belonged to her roiling, offended body, which had its own agenda for freeing itself.

It burst out of her like a sharp, sudden cough, a mute jet of unexpected eloquence. She spat a sharp jet of vomit straight at Shelly—not even in her imagination could she have been such a precise shot.

In all the commotion that followed, it was Greg’s voice she heard. It was the only one she was listening for.

Not long after, the ridiculously good-sported Shelly had changed into jeans and a t-shirt and was helping Greg move Amy out to the car.

“Shelly, I’m so, so sorry,” Amy said, moaning as Greg and Shelly walked her out of the banquet room like twin crutches.

“It’s okay,” Shelly said, her voice aiming at lightheartedness but not quite making it. “It’s nothing a good dry cleaning won’t fix. You forget I’m well acquainted with this phenomenon.”

“I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.” She was sobbing now.

Shelly’s hand brushed Amy’s disheveled hair gently out of her face. “Well, that’s just too bad, sweetie,” Shelly said in her pathetically soothing voice. “You’ve had a terrible, terrible time these past few years, and I feel awful for you.”

“That doesn’t excuse this behavior, Shel.” Greg’s voice came out stifled, like a dog who’s suddenly hit the limits of an electric fence. “I’m so, so sorry. Please apologize to Mark for us.”

“I ruin everything.” Amy could feel herself crying now, resigned to this pathetic, childlike role.

“Amy, be quiet,” Greg said with non-negotiable insistence.

And she was quiet after that, allowing herself to go limp as Shelly and Greg ministered to her like worried parents, setting her down in the passenger seat of Greg’s car, reclining the seat so se could lie down, then letting her out so she could puke again, this time onto the Four Season’s parking lot.

She wondered what Eos was doing now. She wanted to tell her that her grand plan to change things had changed nothing; Eos had been right about what was meant to be. Eos, with rosy fingers, opened the gates of heaven so that Helios could ride his chariot across the sky. The goddess of the dawn; each day, the sun came up without fail. There was nothing more fixed, more inevitable.

Back in the car, she told Shelly she was sorry and she loved her, and then fell into a sweaty half-sleep. She overheard bits of conversation between Greg and Shelly, the rise and fall of concerned inflection, the woeful sigh of further apology. She felt comfortably powerless, secure, like when she was a kid and fell asleep in the car on the way home from a day at the beach. The snatched bits of conversation between her parents soothed her as they wove their way into her backseat slumber. She always knew she’d get home safely; she could sleep and dream as the car bore them along through the salty air of the bay, down the rural back roads populated only by misspelled signs for produce stands and finally, the slow, coasting ascent into the pebble-filled driveway, the soft whine of a stop, that she recognized with her eyes closed. There would be only briefest of interruptions between the cramped car seat dotted with drool and the infinite softness of her bed, a hazy, dreamlike intermission during which she slipped her Strawberry Shortcake nightgown over her sunburned skin. Those nights, she slept more soundly than any other time she could remember. She dreamed the dreams of a person who always makes it home, even when they don’t know the way.

Check out previous chapters of Trivial Pursuits {?} right here.

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