It wasn’t curiosity that inclined my ear towards the two bodies inside; I was doubtful that, after my time on West Egg, I would ever find myself ravenous in that sense again. It was by the window that feverish day that the first breeze in hours rose up from the beach and grazed past the brushwood and white flora to coax me closer. Even from inside Daisy seemed startled by the stirring in the air – for a moment she drew her hand away from Tom’s and peered outward into the balmy darkness, her expression searching for something I could not detect.
“What is it?” Tom demanded.
“Just some air.” Her response wafted out to me on the fragile breath that she had produced.
“I’d rather something other than this,” he gestured towards the bottle in front of him. “It’s sweating almost as much as I am.”
“Alright, one for her too,” he called.
“No, it isn’t that,” she murmured. Tom and I both sensed the unusual depth in her words, sad and insubstantial though they were. It was the first time that I saw Daisy tethered. Even her speech, the weightless form it took after leaving her lips, could not keep her aloft. Rather, it may have been those four words that drew her back towards Earth. “It’s that… it’s about today–”
“We won’t get into that.”
“But Tom…” This time it was her hand that was outstretched across the table, even harboring hesitancy.
“Daisy,” his voice rattled out from between his teeth.
“I think it’s worth discussing…I want to discuss it and…” her mouth fell open, twitching at the corners at she gazed fearfully past her husband, grasping for words. Daisy must have felt the absence of the breeze in that moment just as I did. There was a second that I thought that Tom, his breath hot with liquor, might chuckle. It occurred to me that he knew his wife well in spite of the fact that he had known so many others during their five years together, and that what he had ascertained during those years was that Daisy was not the defiant sort, and never would be. Neither would she be worth the effort – however slight – that it would take to distress her, although that is not to say that Tom never indulged in that effort. Perhaps that is why he eased out of his chair, finished off his drink with an extended gulp, and strode out of the room with the two untouched bottles of ale, leaving Daisy’s unfinished sentence swirling in the stagnant air.