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The woman is the picture of a
politician’s wife: briskly dressed
in a light blue skirt suit, with
matching jacket, black leather
gloves, purse, and pumps. To top it
off, a string of slender pearls
encircles her neck, grazed by the
tips of her shoulder-length blonde hair. Her brown eyes hold a hint of green that sparkles in the spring sun, under delicate brown brows and above demurely blushed cheeks. Her signature scent is Chanel Number 5.
The man next to her holds the same air of importance, of old money, of power. His navy pinstripe suit is expertly tailored to fit the muscular contours of his body. He walks with a manly stride, as if he owns the world, heedless of the many tiny steps the woman at his left must take to keep up. His brunette locks are trimmed to perfection and styled just so; his face is clean and the remnants of his aftershave cling to his cool skin.
They needed something new, these two. They found themselves tired of the same people and the same parties and the same talk. On they went to Chicago on the four o’clock train, scarcely leaving a word behind. A few credit card slips later, the pair unpacked their lives from a few too many Louis Vuitton suitcases, and put everything in a closet for safekeeping. By now, Emma and Ethan have been married for a time, but they refuse to admit how long, since that may insinuate that they have reached a certain age. Clinging to the facade of youth, they made their new lives.
Ethan discovered his passion for the rhetoric, and made his career of it. His watch keeps the time, and his gold band keeps him faithful. Emma’s extramarital affair with charity events keeps her from falling to bits. She is refined and timeless, as any politician’s wife should be; he is merely desperate to rise to the top.
On Rush Street, they take their wine, watching the dreams of others crash around them. The suffocating snow begins to fall, and the Chicago sky goes dark. Again they walk together, on their nightly vigil home from the rush of activity after dark, hoping that something has changed. Still the walls of their apartment are beige, still the furniture is polished, still the wedding photo on the mantle is haunting. Everything is the same.
Though they tried to run from who they were, one can never escape from oneself. They walk in the street, they walk on the sidewalk, they walk up and down stairs, between people and cars, barefoot, but never free.
Even among luxurious bubbles in the bath, Emma cannot escape from the escape. The water goes cold, and the bubbles pop, reminding her of reality.
One day in the spring, sometime in the afternoon, Emma and Ethan came upon a bird on a bench. This was no ordinary bird. A chiffchaff, a chiffchaff indeed, far from where it belongs.
Ethan looked at the bird with a puzzled look on his face, as if he could not fathom its reason for being just there. He said to it, “Hey, buddy! You’re in the wrong place. This is Chicago.”