Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cut in Two

The Musgroves have people over for dinner constantly. We probably have half of our family dinners over there, and usually there is another guest or two to help keep the conversation fresh and lively.

Tonight the guest was Wentworth.

I tried to quietly find out in advance if he would be there, like I've done with every dinner invite over the past week, but I couldn't get a clear answer from Mary or Charles. Just in case, I put a bit of extra effort into looking nice, though I know it’s pointless.

We were late - Mary had an issue at the last minute where she felt unwell and had to be talked into coming anyway, with much flattery about her fortitude in persevering through hardship and how the party would be pointless without her.  In any case, we eventually coaxed her into going to the party.

We entered the living room and found everyone gathered around the fireplace, with Wentworth, Louisa, and Rietta at the card table. Mary launched into a description of her stomach ache to which some perfunctory soothing things were said and then a change in topic was artfully introduced by Mr. Musgrove by asking Charles a business question.

Rietta: Anne, come join me! You’re so good at this game, come be my teammate. Wentworth is ruthless.

Wentworth laughing: Well the game is called ‘Asshole’.

I approached the table and was about to sit next to Rietta when Wentworth got up suddenly. 

Wentworth: Please, take my hand; I need to discuss something with Charles.

The words “take my hand” nearly gave me a heart attack and I’m sure I turned bright red. I couldn’t bring myself to look him in the face. Wentworth also seemed to be flustered by the words that had come out of his mouth; he stood for a moment before going to sit by Charles and Mr. Musgrove.

Louisa - general protesting at Wentworth leaving.

Rietta: That’s too bad; he’s fun to play with. Will you take over his hand, Anne, or do you want to start over?

Me, still flustered: Oh, uh, I’ll take his hand.[more flustered] He was winning after all, wasn't he?

Rietta: This isn’t going to go well for me. You and Wentworth are both sharks at this game. We’ll have to get him to play again later - I’d love to see what happens when you two play each other!

Despite my excellent hand, I managed to lose the game.

It normally would have been the kind of evening I really enjoy - conversation and some games with friends, lots of laughs. But I was constantly on edge because of Wentworth. I couldn't help but strain to overhear all his conversations, such that I struggled to hold up my own. I spent every moment wondering if he would say something to me, look at me, anything. After dinner when the board games came out, he contrived to never be on my team. In fact, he so artfully managed to avoid interacting with me, I began to remember when we dated how he was so expert at avoiding his brother who wanted him to help at the market. We would laugh at the lengths he went to.

I thought about cornering him somewhere and just saying what I wanted to say. I wasn't sure what that was though. I wanted to clear the air somehow. But what could I say? I had broken off our engagement, that was a fact. What could I say that would make that any better, eight years later? But at some point in the evening, I resolved to speak to him. If we were going to be hanging out together over the next week or two or longer, it was silly to play this game of pretending we didn't have history.

Late in the evening he was pouring himself and Charles some whiskey by the sideboard. I went over. In my head I had decided to say “Wentworth, I wanted to say how sorry I am for what happened all those years ago; I hope you can forgive me and be friends.”

I approached him, quietly, apparently, because he started and splashed whisky on the table when I said his name. He turned and I got as far as ‘wanted to’ before my voice completely failed me. He was staring at me with such intensity - was it hatred? It was the first time we had made eye contact - really looked at each other in eight years. I was swimming in so many emotions that I couldn't say anything. It didn't matter anyway, the moment lasted only a few seconds and he frowned and walked away without a word.

I felt like someone had taken a sword and sliced me in half. I didn't think I could return to company and carry on a conversation so I quietly slipped out to the vestibule.

It was so strange - staring into those eyes again after all these years. The hours I used to spend studying his face. But that expression, it was ice and it was aimed at me.


  1. Ouch. I hope you get a chance to talk with him and clear the air without him walking away again.

    Strange question, but why do you always refer to him by his surname? I'm assuming it's because of the blog anonymity, but do you ever call him by his first name?

  2. Thanks Kellie, I hope we're able to clear the air one day, but I'm not holding my breath at the moment. Wentworth is my alias for him - it kind of mirrors the fact that no one uses his first name in real life.