Silhouetta: How to Say You’re Sorry
The baby stopped crying after Craig finished the front page. There was an advertisement for ladies’ underwear. When Eddy came into the room, Craig flipped to the next page and followed the words of an editorial with his finger.
“I’m going to get dressed,” said Eddy. “Why? We’ve got an hour.” Eddy took off her t-shirt. “It takes fifteen minutes to walk there. I don’t want to be late.” Craig looked at the article again. “It says here that there’s a gang in Fallowbank. They’ve been robbing people. Someone got stabbed a few days ago, and the police haven’t been able to do a thing about it.” Eddy put a hand to her mouth. “Fallowbank? But that’s so near!” Craig was reading the article. He could hear Eddy taking off the rest of her clothes in the bedroom.
“Craig,” she called later. “Get the baby, okay. And you should get dressed.”
Craig put on some new jeans and a shirt. He tried to comb his hair. The baby wasn’t asleep, just playing. He had a plastic dumbbell in his hand, was lifting it from side to side of the crib. “Come on, fella.” The baby was making little noises. Every so often, one of the garbled sounds came out in the shape of a word.
Eddy was standing by the front door. “I was thinking.” Craig shook his head. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.” “Maybe we should take a cab. I’m worried, especially with the baby.” Craig pulled her out of the way and opened the door. “There’s nothing to worry about, it’s still light outside and there’s no reason to spend money on a cab when we can walk. Don’t you like walking anymore?” Eddy was looking at him. “No, Craig. Not with the baby. Maybe when we’re alone.” She fumbled with the lock. Craig waited for her in the hallway.
The elevator doors closed. “I just don’t want anything to happen to our family,” said Eddy. “We’re just getting started.” Craig patted the baby on its back. “It’ll be fine.” Eddy moved towards him. “But Craig. You said about the gangs… They’re so close, and we look like we might have money.” Craig tried to find words to make her feel better. He finally just handed her the baby.
The elevator stopped on the third floor, and a man and woman entered. The woman was wearing red. Her hair was in a tail that she had over a shoulder, falling to a place between her arm and her breast. Craig had only seen her face for a moment, enough to know that she was older but still pretty. She wore glasses, square ones. Craig turned away. The elevator doors opened.
Outside, Eddy was looking up and down the road. A bus clambered by, empty, going in the wrong direction. Craig took her by the arm, drew her down the street. “Jill called this morning,” she said, eventually. “What did she have to say?” “Nothing. Just that things were going well. She wanted to know what was happening with us. When she could come to visit. When we might be going home.” Craig thought about how Jill walked, how everyone got out of her way. Craig had done everything possible to make sure that he would never touch Jill. He never got her a drink. He never held open a door for her. “Same thing she always asks then,” he said. Eddy sighed. “And I said the same thing I always do. I don’t know. Whenever. Whatever. She wants to help with the baby.” Craig imagined Jill with a baby, an impossible thought. “Look Eddy. You tell her to come,” he said, brushing a hand over a mailbox. “You tell her to come whenever she wants.”
They kept walking until they reached Blaire Street, then took a left. There were more people here. A few women pushed strollers. Older couples stayed as far from the edge of the road as they could.
Craig saw the police officer a ways down the street. He was walking on the other side of the road, coming towards them. He kept watching the man, this big black man, and the way he looked at everything around him. His eyes lingered on some things longer than on others, and Craig wondered what it would be like to have such permission. Every now and then, the officer nodded at someone whose eye he had caught.
“I’ve never seen a police officer here before,” said Eddy. “It’s no big deal.” Eddy held the baby closer. “They should find all these criminals and shoot them before they harm good people. That’s what they should do.”
They reached the restaurant on time. A girl led them to a table, and Craig saw her eyes linger on the baby. He took a menu right away. When the waitress came, he ordered a beer and got Eddy a water.
The baby was in a high chair. He was taken by a straw that Eddy had wrapped around and stuffed into itself. He looked like he was trying to take it apart, but didn’t manage it and soon dropped it to the floor. Eddy didn’t notice. Eddy was staring at Craig.
“I like it when you look at him,” she said.
“What do you want to eat, Eddy? It’s been ten minutes.”
The waitress took their order. Craig asked for another beer, his last one of the night. Eddy kept dribbling water onto her chin because she wasn’t good at drinking things with ice in them. Craig was glad they were in a booth. The restaurant was dark enough that he could just make out the people. The tables, barely big enough for two dinner plates and a candle, were so far apart that they looked like islands. The loudest thing in the place was a girl behind him who laughed everytime she sipped her wine.
The appetizers came, then dinner. Eddy kept asking if his meal were all right, as though she’d prepared it herself.
“Happy anniversary,” she said to him. “To you too, Eddy.” She put her fork and knife down. “Craig. Let’s get married.” She was smiling. “Eddy, we agreed. We agreed that we didn’t need to. We always said that.” Eddy folded her hands on the tablecloth. “I know, I know. But that’s from before we knew that we were going to have a baby. It’s different now, isn’t it?” Craig shook his head. “I don’t see how, Eddy. It’s the same. We’re still the same. Anyway, your parents don’t care for me much.” Eddy smiled again. “They’re okay. Craig, I asked them, and they were okay. Mom even yelled at dad.” Craig tried to stop her, but she kept going. “I know you already are my husband, but I want to be able to tell other people too. I’d like that. You could call me your wife when I meet people at your work. And we could name the baby after you.” Craig looked around the restaurant. The front door opened and a new couple came in. The girl with the wine was coughing, giggling. “I’m going to the bathroom.”
Eddy stayed with the baby. Now and then, he hit the high chair with a soft fist and watched the recoil. Eddy smiled at him and reached into her purse for the gift. It was the size of Craig’s fist. When Eddy had bought it, the people at the store had wrapped it in green and purple paper without asking her. She’d taken it home and torn the wrapping off, then put on a different colour. Now it was gold. She set it on Craig’s side of the candle.
Around her, she noticed that men stared. They’d glance quickly during a conversation, or take a moment while laughing to lean back and look over. Eddy noticed these things without thinking about them. She had always been beautiful, though she’d been worried about what would happen to her after the baby. When she looked at herself in the mirror these days, there wasn’t any difference from a couple of years ago. She looked the same: the same blond hair, the same blue eyes, the same body. Every kind of light, every shade of dark, flattered Eddy, and when men looked at her, she knew what they saw.
Eddy turned to the baby. He was pounding the high chair. “Yes, you’re right,” she said, stroking his cheek. “The man should give his gift first, so that I can look surprised. That’s how couples do these things.” She picked up the package and put it back into her purse.
Craig came back to the table to find Eddy talking to the baby. On the way from the bathroom, he’d stopped to talk with the bartender, whom he’d been sure that he knew. But she told him it was her first month in the city, and that she hadn’t had so much as a five word conversation with a guy in all that time. Craig had laughed, and wondered if she were lying. When she’d offered him a shot of tequila, he’d been sure that they were strangers. He left wondering if he should have gotten her phone number, just to make her feel better. His path back to the table brought him close to the girl with the wine, close enough to hear what she was whispering through her fingers to the man across the table.
“Well,” he said, “what would you like for dessert?” Eddy didn’t eat the rest of her dinner, didn’t order dessert. When the waitress asked if anyone would like coffee, Eddy took a little. Craig finished his cake. He looked at her. He’d met her on the side of a road, in a rainstorm, her without her wallet and far away from a phone. She’d climbed into his car without a second thought. Since that day, Craig had found that Eddy never looked as beautiful as when she was hopeful. He’d seen it again on their first date, the first time she’d stayed over, when she’d told him she was pregnant, when the baby had been born. “We can talk about it later, right?” he asked. “Would that be okay?” She nodded. “Ready to leave?” She didn’t say anything.
Outside, a couple was climbing into a cab. The door closed and the car was gone. Eddy and Craig and the baby were alone on the sidewalk. “Is the baby cold?” he asked. “Should I get a cab?” Eddy shook her head.
The buses had stopped running. There were only a few people out, and all the cars were in a hurry. Craig tried to get Eddy to say something, but she just listened to the baby. By the time they turned onto Blaire Street, the road was deserted.
When they came to the mouth of an alleyway, Eddy stopped to look into it. “Eddy,” said Craig, “come on, let’s keep moving.” But her eyes were fixed on the alleyway. “Listen, I promise we’ll talk later, but we can’t do it here.” Eddy didn’t look at him. The purse strap had fallen from her shoulder to her elbow. “What is the matter with you?” Craig peered into the alleyway to see what she was looking at. It was black and still in there, quiet. A moment later, he spied something hunched over and dark, something that stood up and unravelled, and started to move towards them. “Eddy, we have to go,” he said to her. Craig thought about the apartment and how it was a ten minute walk down the road. Around them, there was nothing, no traffic, not even any parked cars. Craig heard himself yell, “Eddy!” He grabbed her arm. But Eddy shrugged him off and stood there, staring into the blackness, the baby in her arms kicking its feet and making small noises that didn’t make any sense at all.