He found the flask in her jewelry case, underneath the first tier of necklaces and earrings. The second tier had been removed and the flask was in its place. The flask was ornate with flowers etched into its silvery metal. It was heavy. And full. Against his own judgment, he picked it up and opened it. The whiskey assaulted his nose as soon as he unscrewed the top. It was like an insult to his entire way of life. It was his past knocking at his door at three at the morning wondering why he didn't come out to play anymore.
Joseph hadn't drank in over ten years. When he had met Anne, she barely drank at all. In fact, that was one of the things that was so appealing about her in the beginning. But that was at the beginning, a long time ago. That was before he convinced her to leave her husband and move out of her house and join him on the road. They had been calling each other, texting and emailing every day for over a year by then.
It had been a long courtship. Most of the time, he had considered not even continuing since it seemed so futile. She loved her husband so much and he never heard her utter a negative word about him. But she loved Joseph more. And Joseph knew he could offer her something her husband never could, a chance to do something new. That's the way she was. She was never afraid of trying something new. Even things that scared her. Even things that might be wrong.
It began at sangha. He went to the insight meditation center on his days off from recording and gigging. Meditation was a large part of his sobriety. It kept him steady and whole. She had just started there when they met. Anne had recently experienced the sudden death of a childhood friend and her way of living became something she did not recognize anymore. She came to realize she needed to learn how to deal with death.
It was inevitable that she would meet Joseph and they would make a connection. Death was about the only thing Joseph knew how to deal with. Death had been his constant companion for many years now. His struggle was in learning how to live.
There was a hunger about her. He noticed that right away. He was early and had already picked a cushion towards the back. She sat down on the opposite side of the room. Her posture was very straight and she wore a furrowed brow and focused gaze. She put her legs in full lotus position even though it wasn't required and Joseph could see it was a struggle for her, but something she was determined to do anyway, no matter how difficult it was. He glanced at her several times during the silent sitting and saw her wrinkling her face and her body tremble.
Afterwards, he approached her and said, "You shouldn't take it all so seriously."
She sighed a deep sigh as if exhaling poison that had been trapped in her lungs. "Excuse me," she said.
"I said you shouldn't take it all so seriously. Your meditation I mean. That's the trick to sitting. The more you struggle, the harder it is. Ease into it a little more and don't worry about doing it right."
"Struggling is what I'm good at," she said. "It's the only thing that makes me feel alive."
He laughed. "I'm sure it is. But I'm sure you've come here to learn something new."
She smiled. "I'll try."
He finally got around to looking at her hands. There it was, the wedding ring, gold and with a large emerald in the middle. I should just leave now, he thought.
"I'd like to talk to you some more," she said. "Would you like to go to coffee? Some of us are going. I'm sure you would be welcome." She reached out her hand. "My name is Anne," by the way.
"I'm Joseph," he said. He touched her hand. He knew then that she was already falling in love with him. Fuck my life, he thought.