Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chapter Nine

One week earlier

“Are we going to have breakfast after yoga, Fanny?”

“I thought I told you. I’m meeting Abby at Hickory Tavern after yoga.” Fanny grabbed her yoga mat from the back seat. “See you in class.”

Harold pulled away from the curb and drove off in search of a space in the crowded lot.

It had been an ordinary Saturday at the Britt house. Relaxed, Saturday morning sex for Fanny and Harold followed by a quick trip to the dog park. In between Fanny managed to do a load of laundry. All this before their 10:00 AM yoga class.

As Harold hurried to the gym he wondered whether he should talk to Fanny before her meeting with Abby. He had concerns about her sponsoring her. He’d gone to meetings with Abby’s husband Rich long enough to know that the guy was a nut case. There was even a rumor that he’d actually threatened one of Abby’s previous sponsors. Harold had learned to take AA rumors with a grain of salt, but he was still concerned.

An hour of yoga relieved some of his stress. Most of his worry had dissipated by the time he kissed Fanny good-bye after class. “I’m going to lift weights and have a sauna. Why don’t you meet me back here after you and Abby are done?”

“Sounds good. See you later bye.”

“Fanny. One thing. When you talk to Abby it might be better if you didn’t give her any marital advice.”

“What are you talking about? I’m her sponsor not a marriage counselor. Why did you say that?”

“Just forget it. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

That was so unlike Harold. They always made it a point to keep their AA programs separate. It had worked better that way. They didn’t even go to the same meetings. She was still puzzled by Harold’s comment when she opened the door to The Hickory Tavern.

Abby was already there. She stood up to hug Fanny when she came in.

“Thanks so much for meeting me. It’s a really busy week for me. I’ve got to go into the office after this and finish an account review. It’s due Monday. I’ll probably be working all weekend.”

Abby worked harder than anyone Fanny knew. Certainly harder than Harold who found time to run at lunch and left his office at 5:30. Even though the money wasn’t as good she was grateful that Harold worked for the government instead of a private firm.

Fanny studied the menu even though she knew she was going to order her usual egg white and feta cheese omelet. “What are you going to have, Abby?”

“I’m going to have the lox and bagel.”

Fanny smiled. That’s what Abby always ordered. She thought it was a strange choice for a girl from Wyoming. “So, Abby. Have you given any thought to what we talked about last week?”

“I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve actually done some journaling on it like you suggested. I’ve been working my ass off ever since I got out of college. I am tired of working so hard to make money to buy things I don’t need. My life doesn’t make sense top me anymore. I hate what I do for a living. I am so sick of spending all my waking hours helping people decide how to invest money they don’t deserve in the first place. I think sometime I should just quit. Maybe get a job with a non-profit. Or volunteer at that art school for special kids on L Street. I could go back to school myself and study painting. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an artist.”

“Abby there’s no reason why you can’t do all of those things if it’s what you want. I’m not suggesting that you quit your job tomorrow without a strategy, if you want to make a change you should make a plan and move in that direction.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing, Fanny. This isn’t something I just thought of last week. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I went without vacations. Saved two-thirds of my salary. Then I married Richard. He thinks he can live off my salary. He quit his job and spends most of the day at the gym. There’s something else, Fanny. I think he’s drinking again.”

Abby paused when the waitress brought their orders giving Fanny few minutes to think about how she should respond. So much for intuitively knowing how to handle situations that used to baffle us. She knew what she thought Abby should do – leave the bastard, take the money she’d saved and follow her dreams.

“What should I do, Fanny?”

“I can only speak as your sponsor, Abby. Whenever I have to make a decision, I ask myself whether it takes me toward a drink or away from a drink. I know it sounds like a simplistic response but most AA wisdom is just basic common sense. What makes you think Richard is drinking?”

“He’s different. He’s angry all the time and he’s always asking me for money. His sponsor called the house last week and asked if Richard was okay. He said he hadn’t seen him at a meeting for a while. When I asked Richard about it, he lost his temper. It’s really like I am living with a stranger – an very angry stranger”

“Do you love him, Abby?”

Abby hesitated. “Not any more.”

Fanny took a deep breath. “I’ve never met Richard. I only know what you have told me. But, Abby, when I think about how much you have sacrificed for your dreams, and how hard you worked to get sober – well I can’t help but be furious at Richard for trying to steal that from you.” Before she could stop herself she continued, “If I were you, I’d be tempted to leave that freeloading bastard.”

Harold was waiting out front when she got back from to the gym. “How did your meeting with Abby go?”

“It went okay.” She paused. She knew that she couldn’t say anything to Harold about what they’d talked about but she had never been able to keep anything from him. “Her husband is a real jerk.”

“You didn’t say that did you?”

“Well, not in so many words.”

“Fanny, I’m not kidding. He’s a dangerous guy. You don’t want to get involved. It might be better if you stopped sponsoring her.”

“Harold, you can’t be serious.”

“I’m completely serious. He’s dangerous. If you come between him and Abby, he could do something crazy.”

“Just relax, Harold. You worry too much.”



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