Dylan’s hand is heavy upon my leg. It sits there like a passionless paperweight, placed on my thigh to keep me from moving. I have nowhere to go though, so I stay, moored under his paw, draining every glass that lands in front of me and watching for my cues.

Sarah-Jean, is braying incomprehensible things at me between mouthfuls of salmon. I nod my head to fill in the gaps like some half chewed ellipsis. My neck hurts. Her vapid patois keeps sticking to my palate. I chase it down with lick after lick of scotch, but it always returns.

Connor’s tirade continues across the table from me. I can hear his rhetoric in the rhythmic clutching of my husbands hand, keeping time on the inside of my thigh. I count the seconds. It’s a four, four beat. Of course Connor is a complete ass, but among this idiot council I’m sure he must seem like a reasonable man. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king, they say.

Some raw vestige of etiquette must live on in me. I’ve been able to feign interest in these people so far, but it’s becoming increasingly hard as they drone into the night. I imagine I’m attending the reading of some third rate play. I’m trying to enjoy myself, but I have no passion for it. The players are callow things with more real drama in the pages of their scripts than the words on their lips.

I feel harassed.

I excuse myself to the kitchen. More wine, I say, Sarah-Jean looks frankly parched, the poor thing. I laugh lightly to show how nonchalant I am, that their company is the last thing I’d wish to be away from.

I take two bottles of Shiraz down from the pantry. My eyes flicker to the bottom shelf and over the rat poison there. I think briefly about seasoning their wine with it and proposing a toast to better times. I wonder how hard it is to dig a grave and if we own a shovel. I will tell my husband I am woozy from excess and can not stomach another drink, though I know how he thinks. Nonsense, he will say, and I will be compelled to drink to my death along with the rest.

Better off dead maybe. That or answering a slew of uncomfortable questions to the police. A couple of somber detectives with rugged jaws. Five o’clock shadows in long coats with understanding expressions draped over their steely gazes. Tough men, with maybe a soft spot for a fresh young widow. Perhaps one who is understanding and bold enough as to offer his shoulder in a consoling way. Perhaps Prison. I’m not so sure prison would be any worse than here, I doubt that it could be. At any rate, I am sure I’m not tuned for it. I think I would miss sleeping in on weekends and not being stabbed while I do so. I quite enjoy my freedoms.

I slink back to the table with the wine as quietly as I can. I sit down and compose myself. Even with a mouthful of meringue, Sarah-Jean will not shut up and Conner must have hit his stride because I can feel the tempo in my thigh growing more upbeat when Dylan casts his meaty anchor back over my leg. I fill their glasses and raise mine. To better times, I say.

I think after dinner I will play the piano.