It was an easy question, really. Should she stay in the car or get out and go inside? More questions raced through her head. What kind of mood was he in? Would he be mad at her for being gone so long? Had he eaten or waited for her?
Being away from the house for the day was a pleasant experience. Wandering around stores, talking to salespeople trying to sell her things she didn’t need. She overheard a store manager telling a new employee to "treat each customer as if she were a guest in your home. Put on a smile and welcome her. Offer to help and then show her the new products as if she were a friend stopping in for coffee and you were excited about some new acquisition that brightened your living room." It was an import store specializing in home décor. Even though the manager was male, he referred to the customers—guests as female.
In the bookstore everybody knew her and called her by name. They were the only ones who knew that she was the woman whose picture was on the back cover of a book crammed in between so many other mysteries. Customers just saw an aging woman wearing shorts that should be longer, a tee shirt with a graphic on the back worn so thin from washing that it was impossible to recognize and those wraparound black sunglasses. She always wore those sunglasses, even in the store, like a mask.
Tonight she would be attending a play at the local theater with a friend. Although they were only one year apart in age, her friend would be wearing a long skirt, a ruffled blouse and makeup. She would change her shorts and tee shirt and put on clean ones. Nobody would guess that she was reviewing the play for a magazine.
The writer’s life is an odd one, very different from a musician’s. People don’t recognize writers by their faces, even when they are successful, unless they look like Kurt Vonnegut or Truman Capote. Being anonymous was almost as good as being invisible. It gave her the opportunity to observe people. But when she introduced herself to strangers she often detected a change in demeanor; passed her business card and suddenly she had an identity.
Her decision made, she opened the car door. Rather than go in through the garage alerting him with the sound of the mechanical roll up door, she walked up to the front door, key in hand and inserted it into the slot. She pushed the door open and it was quiet. She called his name. And then he came to her, sniffing her legs to see if she had cheated on him. Of course, she had not. She knew better than to pet any other dog; it would hurt his feelings when she got home.