There is an art to making connections, to moving a reader from one idea to another. Today’s contributor, Kate Shrewsday, does this with elegance and sharp humor. She has a knack for phrasing, an eye for the minute and beautiful, and a grasp on the larger picture, all at once. Her writing leaves me breathless and mute with startling regularity.
The Making of the Shrew, Part 2
Well, thought Penelope. This is awkward.
It was fortunate that the two men enjoying the wide expanse of tabletop had begun to make a fair amount of noise.
Things were hotting up, mercifully, reflected Penelope, as she stooped silently to remove her Louboutins with their percussive three-inch heels. Best not to make a sound. It had always amazed her that lovemaking seemed to render the participants partially deaf. The perfect cover for….whatever she was about to do.
Life, she thought, is all about choices. Some, we have the luxury of days or weeks to make: some we have just seconds.
How to play this most unexpected of trump cards?
She could go for Distressed and Betrayed. That would require tears, at which she was an expert. She would need to utter a few key phrases in the hearing of her husband’s amorous partner, phrases which would be most helpful in court if her husband’s boundless generosity ever became compromised.
Or she could negotiate. They could come to some admirable agreement about sumptuous separate living arrangements, open marriages, numbers of cars, allowances and so forth. Everything could be just perfect.
But Penelope was pragmatic. She knew her limits, and she was well aware that though she had a hefty dose of native cunning, she was not the brightest nightlight on the shelf. Negotiation was beyond her.
Her perfectly manicured hands clasped her iPhone. In the time it takes to bat ones eyelashes, she had the camera up and running.
And she filmed.
My, he must have been tense, she mused, glancing offhandedly at her Tiffany timepiece. He was taking an age. Still, it was nice to see him so animated. With a small spark of uncharacteristic envy she realized that she had never been able to elicit anything like passion from Arthur.
It was all she could do not to tap her toe in impatience. She passed the time by appraising the partner’s behind. Not that it was anything to write home about. It was rather flabby. An academic’s behind, she would estimate: wide and flat and used to sitting in libraries and lecture theatres. And she should know. In her time, she had been a connoisseur of behinds.
There was only one behind, though, which had captured Penelope’s heart.
It owner was a very important man: a married man, of course, many of Penelope’s assignations had been thus; but also a man of the cloth. A man, in fact in the church management business.
Namely, a bishop.
There is something heartbreaking about staring stupidly at your second self, and realizing that, not only is he irrevocably unavailable, but that he has sung “Lord of the Dance” more times than you have had hot dinners.
Ask any clergyman’s wife. To The Other Woman, clergyman’s love is thrice removed: by a wife, by a position of status, and by an emotionally gluttonous church community.
Penelope had adored him, though…he surprised her, something few men were able to do. And he made her laugh.
The fracas next door was reaching its crescendo. Finally they capitulated, and the stranger let out a guffaw of triumph.
Penelope, looking at her watch, tapping her stockinged toe, froze.
She knew that laugh.
It was only now that her eyes rose to meet the mirror in the next room, to look, still unnoticed, at the eyes of the man who was so conveniently cuckolding her.
Those were the unmistakable eyes of an all-too-familiar man of the cloth.