Mr. Freeman Hazard, assistant vice president of the Two Rivers National Bank of Massachusetts, kissed his wife on his way out the door as he always did, then walked to his Lincoln Continental, opened the door, and started the engine. Mrs. Freeman Hazard stood in the double doorway as she always did, watching across the large Victorian’s half-moon porch, watching her husband back out of the long driveway on his way to work. She waved him out of the gate.
Satisfied, Mrs. Freeman Hazard turned back into the house to return to the kitchen. Having had coffee with her husband, she would now finish her leisurely breakfast over the paper before dressing for another day of comfortable idleness.
But the phone rang.
Picking it up, she heard a voice that wasn’t altogether unfamiliar asking for “Mrs. Freeman Hazard.” Just that way.
“Yes,” she said. “That’s me. Who is this?... Who? Oh, yes, I remember….” With some trepidation. (But it had been so many years.) “You have what?.... What kind of…..” The silence was long this time, finally broken by the sound of the receiver settling back into the cradle and a wavering breath. Then she walked up the stairs to get ready to go out.
Two hours later, when the front door opened again, it was Molly Adair who walked in, who took off Mrs. Freeman Hazard’s sheared-lamb-wool coat and flung it on the sofa, who took the pins out of Mrs. Freeman Hazard’s hair and let it fall free, shaking it and raking it with her fingers so it spread out around her shoulders the way it used to when she had been only Molly Adair.
She walked into the kitchen and opened a cabinet. She curled her fingers around the slender neck of a bottle of Scotch. As she tilted it toward her she suddenly thought no. She uncurled her fingers and the bottle swayed and rattled back flat on the floor of the cabinet. “Coffee,” she said out loud. “Coffee. And I’ll think.”
She sat with her coffee and rested her head for a moment on the kitchen table. She lifted her head again and looked around her at her brand-new kitchen, just updated in the most modern 1962 style, complete with the latest appliances, even a dishwasher, which none of her friends owned. Freeman always wanted her to have the best.
They had been married for nine years, and it had been good. He was good to her, generous and kind. She couldn’t ask for a better husband. He was smart and hardworking; he had become an assistant vice president in an amazingly short time. And what woman didn’t want a good husband and good provider? It was all good.
She had met Freeman Hazard when he was a graduate student in finance and she was a secretary at the bank where he was interning. He had graduated, gotten a job at the bank, and proposed to her all in the same month. He told her he was going to be a bigwig at the bank someday; she told him she’d gone to college but realized it wasn’t for her, so she’d dropped out and taken a job. He was sympathetic and smug. He didn’t really believe college was for women, he said.
She hadn’t told him that those two years had been the most exciting of her life. She hadn’t told him what had excited her in those days.
To be continued...