"Actually," Meg said, "I will have another glass of wine. Just fill it right on up to the top."
"Would you like me to just leave the bottle?" the waiter asked. Meg searched his face, his tone, for any hint of judgment, but found none.
"That sounds perfect. I'll let you know if I need another," she said.
Andrew was sitting next to her. Had he been across the table, she would have been forced to pointedly ignore his sad eyes, but from this angle, all she had to do was avoid looking to her left.
Two hours ago, Meg had walked in the door of their condo, hers and Andrew's, and found him packing. Not a suitcase. Everything. His back was to her as she dropped her keys on the table. What she noticed first, as she stood there utterly confused, were the sounds. Rip when the packing tape. Clunk went the box. Thud went the books. He had to have heard her come in, but he did not stop what he was doing, did not even pause. Rip. Clunk. Thud. Still in a state of confused disbelief, she found herself admiring his efficiency.
What are you doing?, she yelled in her mind, but she had been trying hard lately to avoid rhetorical questions, so instead, she walked up behind him and kicked the nearest box. It did not fall over, as was her intent, but instead only shifted slightly. She reached down and tipped it with her hands instead. The books cascaded onto the floor, stopping when they reached Andrew's bent knee. He looked up.
She once again resisted the urge to ask him what he was doing. Instead, she said, "Some of those books are mine."
"I put yours in the bedroom. I don't think I missed any, but you are welcome to check," he replied.
"Where are you taking those?" she said.
"To Goodwill, I think. Unless you have a better idea," he said.
"Didn't you consider that maybe I might like to have some of them?"
"No, I didn't. We've never read the same books. I seem to recall you saying that you would rather read the phone book than a book about the presidents."
She smiled. "That sounds like me. I never understood your bias against fiction."
"The world is too interesting to waste time on made-up stories. As I've said before," he replied.
She was tempted to sink back into their favorite argument, to safely pass the hour or so until they had to leave for dinner, but there wasn't time.
"Why are you getting rid of your books?" she asked, finally.
Andrew stood up carefully. She could tell from the way he leaned that it was his right knee bothering him today. "They depress me," he said. "They are too hopeful. All these unread books just sit there on the shelf saying, 'I bet you just can't wait until the day when you have time to sit back, relax, and read me.'"
"Uh oh," she said. "The books are talking to you. I think the cancer's spreading faster than we thought."
He half-smile, managing to convey his appreciation at her stab a humor, even though he found it completely unfunny.