portion of the artwork for Vallie Lynn Watson's fiction

Husbands and Wives
Vallie Lynn Watson

Veronica took her husband to Van’s going-away party. It was the first time she met Trinh, the Vietnamese woman Van had referred to as his partner. They were both probably twenty years older than Veronica.

Her husband avoided the bar, and she avoided Van. For the last year she and Van had lunch together almost every Wednesday, with two others, but they’d never seen each other at night.

She went to wash her hands before she got a plate of food, and slipped to a pay phone to call Dylan. She hung up, as she almost always did, before he answered. When she came back she saw her husband talking to a blonde lady in blue jeans, stood and watched them for a moment. She almost was happy for him. She was not jealous.

Trinh was next to her at the buffet, filling her plate, and taller than Veronica had realized. She watched the smooth tan skin move over thin wrists as Trinh added chocolate-covered strawberries to her plate. They smiled at each other.

Veronica and her husband shared a plate of black bean cakes and baked brie. When Van was toasting, her husband held her hand under the table, and after they clapped, tried to put his arm around her.

Van hugged her as she was leaving and said he’d see her in New Orleans soon. Trinh leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the lips, and asked if the two could have their picture taken. Someone got a camera, and they angled their heads together, touching, Van’s partner’s bent slightly over hers.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 34 | Fall 2011