Jennifer placed a triumphant T on ACQUIT. Triple word score. She was now beaming at Emily. Emily forced a pursed lip smile. Emily wondered if Jennifer even knew what acquit meant. Wondered if she knew what fidelity meant too. For Emily, Scrabble was a method of relaxation better than a glass of wine or a hot shower. But playing with Jennifer, doing anything with Jennifer, felt like an obligation. Especially now.
Have you talked to Eric in last few days? Emily asked fiddling with her letters. I havent heard you talk about him in a while.
Was that a look?
Hes fine. He hasnt gone outside the wire in a month, so Im not worried about him. Jennifer looked annoyed. His brigade comes home in two months, She said.
Jennifer shifted in her dining chair.
Emily was pondering her words. What are you going to do about Jarred?
What do you mean, what am I going to do? she asked sharply.
It was too late. Jennifer looked different. She knew that Emily knew. Jennifer had been naively optimistic to think she was hiding an affair while living in base housing. Everybody knew everything here. Jennifer had been a friend of Emily since moving in across the street just weeks before her husband deployed to Iraq. Jarred was a friend of Emilys husband. Soon after meeting at a Friday night gathering at Emilys, Jarreds car could be frequently found in Jennifers driveway.
Are you going to keep seeing him? Emily pushed. Are you going to leave Eric?
Jennifer rose out of her chair, bumped the table scattering the pieces on the board. She didnt seem to notice as she leaned over the table staring down at Emily.
I dont know what you think, she spat, but youd better keep your goddamned mouth shut.
Emily looked up at Jennifer coolly. She made a smacking sound, I look forward to coming to Erics homecoming party. Emily smiled genuinely. I think its time for you to leave. Emily reached to pick up the letters.
Jennifer turned quickly and grabbed her keys off the kitchen counter. She was nearly stomping on the government linoleum. Through the door, she eyed Emilys new Civic. She adjusted her keys in her hand and raked two keys down the side of the black, waxed vehicle. Jennifer threw a backwards glance towards the empty door way, blond hair blowing across her pink cheeks.
Bitch, she whispered.