Angela, a society woman from Chicago, heads to San Francisco to confront her husband Cliff as to why he has quit working in her father's office. It seems Cliff has reevaluated much of his life, and Angela's about to find out the extent to which his views have changed. For Cliff, the move to San Francisco has affected more than just his career. A short story from our Diversity line.
“It isn’t much, I’m afraid.” Cliff held the door for Angela.
“I wonder that you live here, then,” she said with some asperity, going in before him. The short hallway went past the open door of a bedroom, past a small kitchen, and led into the living room. He took her coat from her and hung it on the back of a chair. She laid her purse on an end table, and looking around, wrinkled up her nose. There was a lingering smell of cooked food—onions, she thought. Cliff couldn’t boil water. Who on earth could have been cooking onions?
He shrugged. “It’s home.”
“Home,” she said, “is Chicago. And, speaking of which,” she added, turning to face him and lifting one eyebrow, “when are you coming home?”
He shrugged again and went past her, to the window overlooking the street. “It’s not much of a view, but you can just see the hills from here,” he said. “The lights are spectacular at night.”
“I did not come to San Francisco to enjoy the views,” she said.
He turned from the window, framed in the fading light. “But you should,” he said. “Enjoy the views, I mean. They’re here anyway, and so are you, and they’re lovely. It’s a lovely city.” He paused just a second or so too long before he added, “And you are lovely, too, Angela.”
She looked hard at him. He was still handsome, the handsomest man she had ever known. And they had only been apart a year—how much could anyone change in a year? He had, though, she could see that, even if she could not altogether put her finger on just what the changes were.
“Look at you, the way you’re dressed. I thought we were going to dinner?”
“We are.” He looked down at himself, spreading his hands. “What’s wrong with the way I’m dressed?”
“For dinner? Jeans and a tee shirt? You would hardly have gone out the door without a jacket and tie, in Chicago.”
He smiled. She had a disconcerting feeling that he was amused—but by what? By her? As if she were overdressed, rather than the other way around.
“San Francisco is less formal, really. And the place we’re going, well, no one would be wearing a jacket and tie. Believe me, I’ll fit right in.”
“And maybe I won’t?”
He seemed to take that seriously. “You could leave the hat here, and the gloves. As a matter of fact, leave the jacket off your suit, and I’ll find you a sweater to put on.”
“I don’t think I need to change my costume. And you didn’t answer the question I asked you earlier. When are you coming back to Chicago?”
He sighed. “I don’t know, Angela. Truly, I don’t.”
“I went by the office.” She paused, waiting to see if he would offer an explanation. When he did not, she went on, “They told me you don’t work there anymore. They said you haven’t been there for six months or more.”
He smiled again. “It’s true. I was going to tell you about it at dinner.”
“But, that was the agreement. That was the plan. A year in Daddy’s office here, and then back to Chicago, and he would make you a division manager.”
“Yes. I decided actually that I found insurance boring.”
“What are you doing, then?” She did not ask the obvious: why he had not informed her that he had left her father’s company? Why, in fact, if he had decided he found the work boring, he had not come back to Chicago?
“I’m…I’m tending bar.”
“That’s ridiculous. What kind of money could you possibly make doing that? How could you think we could live on it?”