“Annie, my love– sure you don’t want to come along?”
“Maybe some other time,” I lie. “It’s really your thing, not mine.”
To be honest, I don’t actually trust Adam’s invitation, which sounds to me more polite than sincere. I secretly believe that he prefers I stay home—likes it better on his own without ‘the old ball and chain’ and suspect he may even be an entirely different person when I’m not around.
He calls to me from the front porch, “I’m going now,” and looks through the screen door one last time. But I have already wrapped myself up in a cloak of invisibility and he cannot see me as I slip into the Toyota with him and ride into town.
Unseen, undetected, I follow him through the big double doors of the community college and then shadow him down the hall. (Trust me, it’s not as creepy as it sounds.)
When he makes a right turn to enter the art room though, I get cold feet and let him go in by himself. Instead, I hang back just inside the door where I enjoy an unobstructed view of Adam presiding at the front of the class.
“Good evening everyone. Welcome to the Tuesday Night Open Studio. I’d like to thank Meghan Donahue for modeling tonight.”
He claps to show his appreciation and then holds up a basket and asks for a volunteer to collect donations. Three youngish females raise their hands so fast you’d think they were game show contestants. Very eager to please.
Adam invites the model to strike a pose. She looks nervous, self-conscious in her crop top, uncomfortable with her body. Adam intervenes, “Come on Meghan,” he gently laughs, “give us something fun to work with.”
Somehow, he breaks whatever momentary spell she was under because now she is at ease, laughing too, and it is clear, even from where I am standing at the door, that he has touched something that needed attention.
She throws back her head, swings a piece of flowered fabric around her shoulders and plants a foot on top of a folding chair with a proud thud, her long slit skirt revealing a stretch of white thigh. She parts her lips in a smile, triumphant.
I often wonder on Tuesday nights, sitting home alone in my study, Is it Adam the Artist or Adam the Man that makes him such a hit with the ladies?
Adam balances a sketchbook on his knees and draws along with the class during the next series of timed sessions. I can’t see the lines he’s putting on the page, but I see his arm doing little acrobatic dance moves on the page. I am aware how much I envy him.
“That was great, everybody,” Adam tells the class. Let’s take a break and meet back here in fifteen for Show and Tell.”
Then my need to know gets the better of me. Holding my cloak tightly around me, I weave in and out between the rows of metal tables and art stools, careful to avoid the wolf pack heading in the opposite direction toward the back door and the restrooms.
I walk up to a woman I know from town named Connie. A sad divorcée I would call her.
She is admiring Adam’s“masterful”charcoal and pencil sketches from this evening, oohing and ahhing at the artiste.
A steely electrical shock jolts my heart and the cloak feels like it’s caught on fire. I’ve seen enough, I tell myself, and before my suspicions can be confirmed or denied, I retreat into the starless summer night.
When Adam arrives home, I am waiting for him in the bedroom, the cloak of invisibility hanging from a hook on my side of the closet.
“You know,” Adam says, “Why don’t you come with me next Tuesday night? I think you’d really enjoy it.”
“Maybe I will,” I lie, and return to the magazine I am reading.