Norman never knew why he was so bothered by his wife’s question. He paced the room, in his studio, unable to sleep. Lighting another cigarette, he glanced at the ashtray now full with cigarette butts, all standing upwards as if mocking him for his inability to calm down.
Just a few hours earlier, Norman and his wife, Dina, were having dinner in silence. Just the two of them. Their three cats slouched around the dining room, blissfully unaware of the tension.
“So, I hear that you have a secret down in your studio,” Dina said, her voice tight and cold.
Norman knew this question was coming. He chewed calmly.
“Who hasn’t got any?”
“Norman, I am asking you a question.”
Norman swallowed, then reached out for his glass of wine.
“My only secret is why I’m terribly good at what I do, Dina. And even I don’t know what it is,” he said, looking at Dina’s inquiring eyes.
Dina abruptly got on her feet, swept her dinner plate and his off the table, and stormed off into the kitchen. She threw the plates into the sink. The loud thuds made their cats jump and immediately seek refuge under the dining table.
She turned to him, a foreign look on her face — a look Norman had never seen in their almost 20 years of marriage.
“Tell me the truth, Norman. Who is she?” But it wasn’t really a question. She seemed certain there was somebody else.