They sit over coffee, friends of many years, both married half a lifetime now.
“Jack’s Jack.” Grace sighs. “Always the same—like his name. Do you know that’s really his name? Not John. Not Jackson or Jacques or Giacomo. Why would parents name a boy just Jack?”
“Annie, do you remember when we were kids, how we used to play being grown-up and glamorous, married to exciting men? I was going to be Graciela and you’d be Anna Maria, and our husbands—“
“Oh, wait! I remember. Mine was…Thorne, or something?”
“Thorndyke. And mine was Sebastian.”
“What romance-novel names,” Anne laughs.
“And we were going to live in a huge castle on the moors, all of us, each in one of the wings, and we’d ride horses all around the desolate landscape and listen to the voices of the spirits in the air. And our children would be half-wild and beautiful and love the wind and the rain and each other, and they’d have a tragic and passionate relationship like Heathcliff and Cathy.”
“Now why would we have wanted that for our children?”
“Because it was exciting and full of life.”
“Gracie, are saying you’re unhappy with Jack?”
“No—that would be more interesting. I’m ahappy, I guess—neutral. Somewhere in between.” She leans over the table. “Annie. I have to tell you something.”
A few blocks away, Jack, Just-Jack of the plain name, to whom she is not Graciela but the grace of God, is getting ready to clean out his wife’s car. He loves doing little things for her. She walked to the café to meet an old friend, so he’ll surprise her. Clean the interior, vacuum, wash the car.
He opens the glove compartment and pulls out old badly folded maps, her registration card, the manual, a few miscellaneous papers.
Then something drops on the seat. He picks it up and stares. For a moment he can’t grasp what he’s seeing.
And then he does.
Written for the Trifecta challenge. This week's word: grasp.