They stood by the pool table and Meg ran her finger over the green felt. She wondered how long it had been there; how many beers had been spilt across its surface despite the laminated signs taped to each side: NO DRINKS ON POOL TABLE!!!
Alan hadn’t listened. His glass sat a few inches from her hand, and Meg thought about reaching over, hooking her finger over the rim, and soaking the table in Johnnie Walker. He would be so mad. Alan’s drink of choice, watch, shoes, and cellphone might’ve said he could afford it, but Meg knew that was all keeping up with the Jones’ bullshit.
Meg. She liked the way her nail polish looked while she traced lines into the stained fabric.
Meg. The green made her red fingertips look bright and tacky, like Christmas lights up in July. She thought of home.
“Meg! Damn it. Are you even listening?”
Meg raised her eyes lazily to stare into Alan’s with distain.
“You know I can’t stand it when you—“ A vein in his neck rippled, sweat was building above his furrowed eyebrows, and a single thread of saliva connected his bottom and top teeth. It held on stubbornly, vibrating with each angrily whispered word Alan threw at her in a vain attempt to keep their friends from overhearing. “How many times do I have to ask you?” His teeth looked yellow under the dim lighting.
Meg looked back down at the pool table. She picked up ball number 4 and rolled it between her palms. Red nail polish, purple ivory imitation, and yellow teeth.
Line of spit.
His stupid sweaty forehead.
“I told you,” she spat, mimicking his soap opera whisper with her eyes still lowered. “It wasn’t intentional. You act like everything I say has eighteen layers of subtext.” Meg was willing to bet their friends could hear, but she didn’t care. Let them listen, let them see the cracks in the china for themselves.
“Do you know how hard it is to trust you, to believe the words coming out of your mouth when you never look at me when I’m talking to you.” Was that an order?
With obnoxious slowness she looked up and said in her best drawn out southern drawl, “Fuck you, Alan.”
That set him off. Meg didn’t care. She looked tired, she felt tired, and she rolled her eyes as his words fell on her shoulders and dripped to the floor. And then she was staring at that spit again. How was it still holding on? Meg imagined pushing Alan down onto the green, stained felt; of straddling his chest and pinning his pale arms beneath her dark knees. She couldn’t take her eyes off him. The pulsing vein, the sweat, his yellow teeth and that fucking line of spit. Wouldn’t it feel good, Meg thought, wouldn’t it feel so good to straddle him right here and break that line of spit with this pool ball? To shove it past his lips, to watch his teeth break and fold around it. To—
“Alright?” Alan finished, his vein receding slowly back into his neck. Her eyes seemed to refocus, and the translucent line snapped and settled on his bottom lip like a small, sticky dewdrop.
“Alright,” she responded. But Meg didn’t know what he was talking about. She didn’t know what she had agreed to. She had been too busy thinking about red nail polish on purple paint, dark knees pinning pale skin to green felt, and what it might feel like to have yellow shards of enamel buried deep within the flesh of her knuckles as she pushed.