Route 7 Review - Page 140

He slipped a hand into her robe and onto her bare hip.  “When’s the last time you shocked yourself?” “It’s happened more and more, lately.” “How does it make you feel?” he asked. “Confused.”  Ashamed. “Capable of anything?” “Yes.”  The word was ragged and hoarse, an acquiescence more than an answer. “It’s a powerful thing, to know that you are capable of anything.” If it startled her--if it squeezed her guts when she thought about it, made her feel like a monster and caused her to rationalize her behavior in ways she would’ve laughed at and pitied had a friend confided in her--she saw it for what it was after a week.  She’d been seduced, she was an adult who’d been seduced by a man of power and prestige (who may or may not be her own father).  The only option she had was to live with it. So she decided that would have to do. At least it was original.  Tawdry and creepy, but original. But was it?  She was in an affair.  Eliminate the circumstance and this kind of thing probably happened all over the block. The thought comforted her. She went to his studio to tell him everything.  It was not with a little bit of giddy pleasure, the chance to really drop a bomb on someone so aloof.   I’m your daughter.  I might be your daughter.  Hey, dad, guess what you did?  She hadn’t chosen her line of attack yet. He buzzed her up and she took the steps two at a time. And then she fucked him again. Twice. That spring, home was a briar patch—just when she got comfortable, she’d take a turn down the wrong path and feel the thorns.   Slattern.  Liar.  Monster. Jason asked no questions about her life.  He demanded that she be what he wanted.  He made her feel pretty, and smart, and young, and safe, because he forced her to be pretty, and smart, and insecure, and in danger of falling apart if he were to let her go.   Home was acceptance, which she could not accept.  Jackson’s gentle way was almost canine.  Why’d she settle?  Why’d she let herself off so easily? And then May. On a cold rainy day much like the first, she rang but there was no buzz.  She pounded on the door.  Nothing. For a week straight, she stood in the street in the drizzle and wind and screamed at his window.  The curtains never moved.   She didn’t miss him; she was relieved.  Jason was tangential, even anathema--a constant reminder of what she was capable of.  She told herself that she stood in the rain outside his door because she missed the life—the poetry and paint, the mysterious phone calls he received in French or Afrikaans, the ache and form translated to oils and canvas.  It was the life her mother missed and resented, of course, and now she knew why.  It can’t be him, she told herself, it’s something bigger than sex or lust or love.  It has to be.   In June, Karl had his first show in years, “Shadows of the Night”.  She could tell that the reviews were mixed at best, though she would not read them.     She went, with Jackson, so depressed and resigned that she was ready to confront Karl in front of her husband, ready to burn the whole thing down—her marriage, her life, everything.   But Jason Karl was not there. “He never attends his shows,” a woman--finally, the elusive Barbara—explained.   “Oh.” It was all Nina could manage. Barbara regarded her, then nodded like she understood.  “Wait here,” she said. “What’s this about?” Jackson asked. Nina shrugged. Barbara returned with an envelope.  “For your trouble,” she said. Nina was shocked.  She took the envelope.  “But I don’t--” “I insist,” said Barbara.  “So does Mr. Karl.” “I’m not--” she began, then looked at Jackson. Barbara’s smile was papercut thin.  “Good heavens, dear, I know,” she said.  “That would’ve been awful.”  She put an hand on her shoulder, squeezed and dropped it it to her side again. And then, any warmth that had passed between them was gone.  “Mr. Karl would also like to extend his regrets about the work.  He felt that none