A few minutes later –
As they sit at the kitchen bar I take down glasses from the cabinet. “I just want you guys to know, I’m getting drunk tonight. I’ve had it. I took a family portrait for Henry’s kid today. Guess who all was it in?” I pull open a bottle of red wine with a yank.
Shane shakes her head, “No, I’m good with beer. But that? That’s fucked up.”
“Alice, are you still taking any pills?” I hesitate before pouring her a glass.
“All done with that. It’s your house, get drunk if you want to. But look.” Alice puts Dana’s ashes, still in the Starbucks cup, on my counter, “We have to make a decision about Dana. I don’t want her to spend the night in this grimy cup. Do you?”
The three of us stare at the Starbucks cup. A tiny black ant pokes its head and antennae out of the opening in the lid. “God, that is so bleak.” I have to admit.
“Very fucked up. Who knew ants liked coffee?” Shane asks.
“See, I can’t take her home like this.” Alice cries, in a panic.
“I told Tina today, don’t burn me up, guys. I don’t like anything about it.”
“I’d ask about your silent retreat, Bette, but I mean, what is there to say?” Shane laughs, as she drinks her beer.
“Exactly. Thanks for not asking.” But feel my face changes into anguish. “It was too much to suddenly come home to this, Dana.” I say to the cup.
“Guys, I asked Carmen to marry me this afternoon.” Shane swigs on her beer, waiting for our reactions.
All I can do is to drop my head into my hands at what an uncompromisingly bad idea that is for so many, many reasons. The first one being monogamy.
“Not a resounding vote of happiness there, Bette. You really don’t think she’ll come back?” Alice asks.
I rub my hands up and down my face. “Back to Shane and Carmen for a moment. I get the whole monogamy thing a lot clearer now. There’s anxiety either way. It’s not about the fear that you’re missing out on something exciting, or a fear that you don’t care anymore. It’s about knowing that what you’re accustomed to with another person is safe – at least from someone else’s hands. Everything else, diseases . . .” I point at the stained cup. “Heaven forbid car crashes – anything that can just wallop the living shit out of you one day – at least is not lying in your bed — in more ways than one.” I take a deep swallow of wine. “I finally get it.”