Adam sat hunched over, his usual position on a usual day. Today he felt like the numbers he crunched and the notations he took and the envelopes he sliced open were as ancient and cryptic as Viking runes; nothing combined in the usual order today. He drank his coffee from the dining hall with his usual preciseness and he looked out the office window at the entrance to the caves with his usual stoicism; a casual observer might not note that his hands shook and his eyes were rimmed red and his feet shifted back and forth in his brown (highly polished though not too expensive) shoes.
Adam had seen something glorious and true the prior evening, that’s what had his organs in knots and his throat constantly filling with saliva and something like tears. Blake had asked him to dinner, partially to see the inside of the newly constructed foreman’s cottages, partially to bend his ear about baseball or home or collecting old cars or something along those lines. Adam hadn’t heard most of the invitation before he answered in a machinelike, formal way Of course, be glad to, can I bring anything from the store or the dining hall to accompany? And Blake had replied Oh for Pete’s sake no, just bring yourself. Justine will have plenty of food already laid out. We’ll eat then I’ll show you the place and then we’ll talk a while. I have a radio now and we might be able to tune something in from Palmer. But Adam had stopped listening when Blake said “Justine”. The uttering of her name (which he had just recently learned) sent him into a bit of a fold, his eyes involuntarily rolled a bit upward. He would be sharing the air, the space, a meal with her. He hadn’t sat close to her since the night at the movie house when the wives had first come up the mountain. Thinking of her, her name, her painted red lips, her chest under her simple bright dresses sent his mind to inappropriate places, and he both dreaded and could hardly wait (in fact he didn’t sleep the night before the dinner except for a desperate hour before he usually woke) to hear his voice mingle with hers. Blake was an afterthought.