Liza’s eyes flicked from the kitchen to the stairs. “He’s in bed,” said Michael. She frowned. He shifted feet. Liza pulled a rolled up magazine from her bag and tossed it to him. It looked like one of those obscure Lit magazine that Bruce would read. Michael flipped through the pages and it fell open to an article written by Bruce.
Michael skimmed it. He cringed inside, but was careful to keep his face neutral. Liza was watching him. He flipped back to the cover. It was recent. Michael wanted to flee back up to his room with a bottle of Bird Dog. He was not good with this kind of thing. If he was, his own life might have been different. He handed the magazine back to Liza. Say something soothing. “You didn’t know that he was a widower?” Not that.
Liza shrugged. “There’s a picture in his office of a woman and a girl…I didn’t know for sure…but I figured. I guess I was hoping they were relatives.”
“Did you ask who they were?”
“He didn’t want to talk about it and I didn’t want to know,” said Liza, stuffing the magazine back into her bag.
“Why not?” Yeah, keep pressing. This will calm her down.
“I figured that he would tell me eventually.”
“Eventually when? After you let him move in?” You should have been a therapist.
Liza looked irritated. “What are you trying to say?”
Yeah, what the hell are you trying to say? “That you never asked because it wasn’t a deal-breaker, right? So why should it be now?” There. Sounds plausible.
“He wrote this months ago! Not years, months!”
Oh Jesus, try something else. “Do you wish that I didn’t live here?”
“What? I invited you to live here. I like having you here.”
“Do you wish that we were your parents?” Bringing up dead loved ones, smooth.
“What kind of question is that?”
“No…that’s not the same thing.”
“If they were still alive, we wouldn’t be here. Do you wish we were gone and they were here?”
“…No…one thing has nothing to do with the other. Their death is what it is. Where are you going with this?” asked Liza.
Uhhh… “…The wife and the kid being dead is what it is too. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to be with you.”
“Clearly it does!” She patted the bag. “Or…at least, he’d rather be with them.”
Bird Dog. Little cigars. Sleep. “Liza…” She stared at him like she wanted him to say something that would make it all better, but he was out of ideas. He’d gotten the same impression as her from the article. He closed his mouth.
Liza jammed her hands in her pockets. She shook her head as she studied her shoes. “I didn’t press it wasn’t because I knew the answer wouldn’t be a deal breaker. I was afraid that it would be.”