Sequence of Events: Drawn Upon Imagination (part one)
Your spirit is fused with that of the other hundreds of men and women in the audience.
NY Theatre Program Corporation Ad, 1919
As a man abandoned by his wife and keeping house alone, Van Nest, despite the Hotel Lowden’s daily maid service, could hold his own.
Each day, after she’d finished the apartment at ten a.m., Van Nest stole a march on the maid, and continued to spread himself, cultivating pockets of slobbery. The two sofas, the dining table; notably, the writing desk, were stacked with library books and sundry types of paper, these covered in capital letters going down the front and up the back, along the margins and across the corners. Where Van Nest had absently laid aside coffee cups, left them tilting over their saucers on the rug, dropped his Herald, his News, and his shoes (sometimes trailing a forlorn sock), the maid—while respecting her employer’s rule she not tamper with a guest’s personal things—fought back, setting dishes in the hall, and with her carpet sweeper nudging Van Nest’s jumble.
Student of human nature that he was, confronted with this new life, he found himself untroubled by emotion. He was too interested in the whole thing. He had even thought up reasons to get Zeda on the telephone. While speaking to her, he jotted down her apparent mood. He was curious to learn whether she grew happier with the passing days, less annoyed with him; and whether there was in this an unguessed-at paradox.
Van Nest’s mother had been widowed from his early years; he had no brother or sister, and never, until this present age of thirty-two, had regretted the missed chance to observe at first-hand a marital dynamic different from his own. His working thesis was that the rooms of a house, if the house were large enough, might offer separation adequate for two people who liked each other better proportionate to seeing each other less. He and Zeda had never owned a house.
“Summers,” he said to his guest, “you’re not married.”
Summers wrinkled his brow and stubbed out his cigarette. “Well…it’s the sort of work I do. I have to travel.”
“But you want to look at marriage as a contract―that’s what they say it is. You should figure being away from home is just a quality, a thing you have to negotiate with. You need to find the right lady.”
Drawn Upon Imagination
(2016, Stephanie Foster)