There’s Something Happening Here

Liz stood just inside the door, anticipating the knock. She checked her short black hair in the glass fronting the photograph. Beyond her reflection, she saw tendrils of gray fog caressing a skyscraper. The image made her think of the photographer, Sam Etheridge. Sam had become a friend after all, despite his rapid rise in the art world and his two-year disappearance to Europe, from where he returned asking to be called Callen (one name-his middle one). She and Oscar had overlooked his change.

She watched her breath grow visible on the glass, even though her lips were barely parted, and she might have thought she wasn’t breathing at all. She rubbed her top and bottom lips in and out. Her trepidation for this moment had been realized in the phone call that had finally come. Here was the moment she was certain would transpire in her future when she met her husband, Oscar Vengoven, twenty years ago, since he had insisted on counting off his skeletons over their second glass of wine. Oscar had yielded to immediate intimacy to distinguish himself from the pack and to let her, a woman he had already fallen deeply in love with, see his core. The men before him had offered only primal getting-to-know-you’s, even though Liz had spent months or years trying to find out who these individual men really were, but there was no revelation or closure with any of them, they simply lodged in her mind as members of a faceless past who had failed her brand of intimacy and therefore her heart.

The moment of getting-to-know was about to transpire as soon as the young woman, who was getting out of the taxi, walked across the brick path leading to Liz and Oscar’s front door. Phoebe Lake was her name and what kind of name was that anyway, Liz thought just then as she checked for lipstick on her teeth, rubbing her index finger several times across the top row until the enamel squeaked. Oh Oscar, she sighed to herself. She drew another deep breath and heard the footsteps finally approaching and the taxi pulling away from the curb.

Then came the knock, and Liz backed up and opened the door quicker than she would have liked. She noticed it immediately, Oscar’s grey eyes, the reddish tint overlaying blonde hair, his smile, his height. Her mind raced ahead of her, anticipating what he would see and think and say when he arrived. Say something, she scolded herself, caught in a brainstorm of whirling thoughts, trying to catch the breath she had saved before opening the door, but before a word was uttered, out came the soft hand and a smile, “Liz Vengoven?” the young woman inquired, voice steady and eyes clear, “I’m Phoebe Lake.”

Excerpted from There’s Something Happening Here by Rachel Dangermond
Copyright ©1998 by Rachel Dangermond