Real Life & Liars

Real Life & Liars by Kristina Riggle Read Free Book Online

Book: Real Life & Liars by Kristina Riggle Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kristina Riggle
to him quizzically. His voice has a studied calm to it as he replies, “Now, why would I think that?”
    The speaking seems to have snapped Max out of his stunned trance, and he says, “I’m going to check on my wife. Excuseme.” Halfway to the door, he stops, turns around, and goes back to Darius, shaking his hand quickly but not looking directly at him. “Congratulations. Welcome to the family. Excuse me.” And he heads for the door again.
    Now Van and his new brother-in-law are alone, and Van starts to sweat like a pro wrestler, which he worries will be further evidence to Darius of their racist tendencies, seeing as how he can’t get comfortable with a minority in the room.
    A minority, thinks Van, what a rotten way to refer to a human being.
    “I just mean,” he stammers, “just because they’re a little shocked, I don’t want you to think we’re some kind of racists. We just, I mean, we didn’t expect…We didn’t even know Irina was dating a black guy. Any guy! I mean, she’d never even said…”
    Darius stares back at him, and Van thinks he might pass out. He lets his gibbering trail off, and that’s when he sees one side of the man’s mouth twitch up slightly. Van sinks back into his chair. “I need a drink. Can I get you a drink?”
    “No, thanks. I’ll wait until the ladies get back. I’m sorry I upset your mother.”
    “Yeah,” Van muses, half to himself. “That was strange. My mom is a total hippie, it can’t be because you’re black.”
    On this, the screen door bangs into the wall as Katya barges through with Irina in tow. Irina tries to turn right back around but Katya takes her wrist and pulls her back in.
    Irina lets herself be pulled in, and puts her other hand to her forehead. “Oh God, Ivan, what have you been saying?”
    “My usual drivel,” Ivan replies, staring gloomily at the floor.
    Darius joins her, and gives her a squeeze and a peck on her forehead. Ivan notes they make an attractive pair. Irina is so fair, with her dark black hair cut short she looks elfin. Darius is tall, broad-shouldered, and not all that dark, really, but the contrast with Irina is striking, even so. Ivan muses that they will makeexotic-looking babies, and feels immediately ashamed of himself for thinking so.
    As the formal introductions begin, Ivan wipes his sweaty hand on his pants and prepares to formally meet his new brother-in-law. Ivan realizes he might suffer permanent damage from the exertion of not sounding like a bigot—or a self-conscious asshole—for the rest of his life. Or rather, the duration of Irina’s marriage. Given the brief history of this blessed event, reflects Ivan, that might not be long at all.

    I clutch my chest, and I’m drowning in emotion, only I don’t know which one, just that it’s too much for me at once and I can’t breathe.
    I throw open the window of my study and suck in the outside air, though it’s muggy, and that’s not much relief. It’s something to do, at least.
    My consolation is that someday Irina might have a child of her own, who might do something like this to her, who will just drop in with a husband the same year she can legally drink a glass of wine.
    Not that I’ll be around to see it.
    I lower myself to the floor and, with concentration, sit cross-legged, then lift one heel onto the opposite knee. The second heel takes a great deal more effort.
    I place my hands in chin mudra and rest them on my knees. Thebreath is slow. The universe is breathing me. The universal life force breathes into my lungs, and back out to the world, and in my mind’s eye it looks like a mist of gold.
    Oh, shit and bollocks.
    It takes even more effort to unfold, and my wincing alarms Max.
    “Are you all right? Are you sick?”
    “I thought I might meditate. I mean, she got married?”
    The effort of unwinding wore me out, so Max joins me on the floor. We both lean on an old scruffy couch across from my

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