Kitty makes her intentions clear
Cal arrived at his office before Kitty. She knew he was there because his winter coat was hanging on the coat tree in the corner. Snow blew around outside the front window, settling on lampposts and tree branches. Kitty’s hands were chilled. She was holding them over her desk light for warmth when Cal came from his office and stood where the hallway met the front room. Kitty looked up from the desk, rubbing her hands a little, unsure what to say, but he spoke first so it didn’t matter.
“I was wondering,” he started.
Kitty watched him just standing there.
“I mean, I know we haven’t had a chance … ” he stopped again. “Well, what I want to say is … ” again he halted.
“Cal,” Kitty interjected during the pause, “I understand. You don’t have to explain. I shouldn’t have unburdened to you. You don’t need to concern yourself over my problems.”
Cal gave her a vague look as if he wasn’t sure what she was talking about. To Kitty it seemed clear that he was trying to reestablish their relationship on a less personal note, so she was trying to make it easier for him. Her reasoning seemed to her completely sound. She wanted to keep this job. She did not want anything to complicate coming to work, doing what was expected of her in a competent way and going home to Alva’s. She had even begun to think about a day when she would have saved enough either to pay Alva rent or to get a place of her own. In the back of her mind, there still lingered the thought of herself as a nun, living in a convent surrounded by sisters who lived a simple life of prayer and seclusion from the world. She had not yet succumbed to Alva’s suggestion that she was mourning the loss of her own family. To Kitty, they were numinous ghosts, entirely out of her reach.
“No, what I’m trying to say is … ” Cal spoke again. “Are you busy for lunch today?”
Kitty was startled but she answered right away, “That would be fine.”
Cal returned to his office in the back, but promptly at twelve-thirty he came to the front, took her coat and brought it to her desk, helped her on with it and then put on his own. He opened the door for her to pass outside first and they walked together toward Seventh Street.
“How about if we go to Alva’s Café for lunch?” he asked.
“Do we have time?” Kitty wondered. “It’s pretty far.”
“It’s okay,” Cal said.
They walked in silence, Kitty wondering what this meant. She began to compose a series of questions to ask him at lunch. But this was not an easy thing for her to do. The questions became all jumbled in her mind since she didn’t know what the answers would be or what she would say to certain answers. So she abandoned her plan and simply walked next to him. Snow was falling steadily by now, covering the streets and sidewalks, muffling the scant traffic, softening the hardness of the city.
After they sat down and ordered their food, Cal, fiddling with a spoon, looking at the tablecloth as if for some sign, finally said, “Why don’t you wear a wedding ring?”
Kitty was too stunned to ask any of the questions she had been considering so she answered immediately, “I left it at the house before I went away.”
“Does that mean you’re going back to get it?” Cal asked.
“No,” said Kitty. “I don’t want anything that’s back there.”
“What I mean is,” Cal began again, “what is your status now? Are you divorced or are you still married?”
Kitty had never considered this. To her, leaving was enough.
“I guess you could say I’m technically still married. But that’s all,” she said.
“So you don’t plan to go back to him?” Cal asked, a note of nervousness in his voice.
“Oh no,” Kitty said. “Never.”
“Then are you going to get a divorce?” Cal asked.
“I hadn’t thought about it,” said Kitty. “If I could do it without having to see him again, or without him finding out where I am, yes I would get a divorce.”
“So you have no plans to get back together with him then?” Cal asked, finally looking at her straight on.
“None at all. I never want to see him again,” Kitty said and suddenly realized that any lingering thoughts of her husband had dried up and disappeared, like old tears.
A big smile spread across Cal’s face as he leaned back in his chair like a man who’d just been given a reprieve.