Donnie had never been particularly perspicuous, so when he asked Grace to attend the concert with him she was taken slightly aback. Up until that moment, she had been unsure whether he had any real interest in her, or if he had just been making the best of the situation. She had been a gift after all; a compromise; a symbol of gratitude – though never treated as one. A concert, though, was a clear indicator of affection. Or, at the very least, fondness. It eased her mind, and even loosened the figurative cuffs around her wrists.
The rendition of Sonata no.14 was poor, but Grace tried to appreciate the effort behind it and clapped heartily with the crowd when it was expected of her. She snuck glances of Donnie every now and again, but he seemed indifferent to all of it. At the intermission, she hurried off to the ladies’ room – an excuse to gather her thoughts.
“I’m awful tonight, I know.”
The voice was soft but sent a jolt through Grace, who had not expected Donnie to enter the washroom. Her face flushed immediately, and she stuttered without eloquence. She had no idea what the appropriate words were, nor what reaction Donnie was trying to garner from her. That always made her nervous – not knowing what others wanted of her. He approached slowly, eyes locked into her own. She tried to look away, but found herself mesmerized by his forwardness. In all the time she had know him, he had barely said more than a few words directly to her. In fact, he rarely spoke at all.
Grace’s knees buckled as she backed into the counter, clawing the edge with her satin-gloved fingernails. Donnie came within a couple inches of her and stopped dead. The intensity in his eyes melted away, leaving behind those of a confused youth. He shook his head as though awakening from a trance and looked around. Grace cleared her throat, still absent of vocabulary. In the distance, the bell sounded to urge the audience back to their seats.
“We should,” Donnie started.
He did not finish. He simply wandered out.
Grace spun to face the mirror again. Her dress was a vibrant pink that shone under the pot lights. Disoriented, she tugged at the strapless number to raise it higher on her bust, tucked a few rebellious curls back into her diamond encrusted hair clip, and exited the washroom.
Donnie was nowhere in sight. Rattled, Grace walked back to her seat on the balcony. He was not there either. After the show, Grace stepped into the cold night air and used her cellular to dial her driver. It was supposed to be his night off, but he would have to make an exception. He brought her home, where she undressed and retired to the library; one of the few rooms Donnie had granted her access to (although it was not without a fight).
The next morning she attended to her usual chores. It was while she was dusting the entertainment set and watching the news that Grace heard of the gruesome murders of two concert goers. Both had been wearing stunning pink dresses, much like her own.
She turned away from the screen, resisting reaction. It was not her job to understand Donnie, or his motives. When he came home, she would not even ask the question.
Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©