By a Different Name
“No, it wasn’t like that at all,” Jill said. “It was more like when he came back from London, bragging about the good beer he drank and that gigantic bruise on his cheek where the bouncer hit him.”
“That’s right. I don’t know why I always get those two events mixed up. Later, he told me he’d fallen over while drunk, arms against his side and hit his face on the street. I asked him if it was cobblestone. He couldn’t help lying. It was his nature to be deceitful.” Charlene closed her eyes like she was remembering. Jill felt her face flush.
“No, he could help it. He just chose not to.” She let that phrase linger. She knew him best; better than Charlene.
A southern breeze blew over the tops of the trees but not low enough where she could feel it on her skin. Looking down at her evenly tanned arms, she could see the beads of sweat clinging to the fine hair. It had been a hot summer and it showed little signs of changing soon. She knew, even in these humid conditions, she looked beautiful. Her sun bleached hair, soft green eyes and pouty mouth, the heat only added to them, highlighted and magnified them. Why should it matter that he slept with someone else and that someone else had been her best friend. She knew she was better than Charlene and that was what counted. Charlene was clever, that was fact. She had a willowy, airy laugh that seemed to make boys weak. She could seduce them with her eyes, with her voice and she was pretty enough, just not beautiful. Beauty was more important.
“Though I have to say, I did enjoy the chocolates he brought back. They were extra sweet.”
Jill forced a smile. “He always wanted something when he did that, brought you candy. You could never believe him.”
She looked over towards the pond where a female duck was leading five ducklings to the edge. Without hesitation they followed their mother into the water, swimming directly behind her in a tiny cluster. She longed for that kind of trust. To be able to accept another person so completely and feel secure and safe. She wondered what it would be like to give yourself over like that, to silence doubt. You would sleep a heavy and peaceful sleep. The ducklings would follow their mother anywhere with complete certainty, with complete hope. They would follow her right into the mouth of a dog, smiles in their hearts, if she led them there. And that was it, Finally. That was the answer. Trust was an illusion. That was what complete surrender always got you in the end. That is where trusting someone always left you-bloodied and torn in the jaws of a dog.