Excerpt from “The Weekend” by Jane McMaster (Conroy) Published April 2004 – ISBN: 1413770274
Maggie was comfortable being single, and was good at it after 37 years of practice. She wouldn’t rule out the possibility of marriage if the right man came along, but it was a concept she had trouble imagining. Did the right man even exist? Her mother didn’t think so, and maybe she was right and Maggie was just using it as an excuse not to settle down and raise a family like the rest of her siblings. But her mother also lived in a world that didn’t exist anymore, one of arranged marriages and subservient women, so Maggie wanted to believe fate offered at least a few compatible possibilities.
There were plenty of wrong men and her friend, Susan, a recent divorcee, was the latest proof. Susan became a statistic and a single parent to her five-year old son when her husband left them six months ago. The decision to stay home with her son was no longer a possibility financially or emotionally, so Susan returned to her former position as an account executive at a Philadelphia advertising agency. It was a perfect career choice for the clever Susan, but sometimes she’d argue that working for such a conservative agency stifled her creativity. Working was much different this time around, she’d say. Business dinners and Friday afternoon happy hours were few and far between when you had a child to care for, and although she knew Susan loved being a mom, she claimed it was difficult to have no social life. When the agency asked her to attend a meeting at the parent company in Manhattan, Susan had suggested they make a weekend out of it. It had been too long since life had presented an opportunity like this, and they both needed to take advantage.
The train jerked suddenly, snapping Maggie back to reality and causing the young man walking down the aisle to fall into the empty seat in front of her. He grinned for a moment, probably feeling embarrassed, then clutched his worn portfolio and went on his way. He was attractive, at least in an artistic way, with his disheveled bed-head blonde hair and black horned rimmed glasses, which were the trend. She smiled thinking of the possibilities if he had fallen her way. That would have been a unique way to meet someone new. She could almost hear herself telling her children that their father simply fell for her, realizing that maybe she wasn’t so different from her mother after all. Her daydream ended as quickly as it began as she watched him walk away, wondering what was in his portfolio. Was it romantic black and white photographs of the New York skyline, or perhaps sketches of a naked model from an art class?
Seconds later, the ticket collector entered the passenger car to announce their arrival. Maggie pulled out a compact to check her face. Her shoulder length reddish-brown hair was in place, and even though her green eyes were a bit bloodshot, she was pleased with the way she looked. She gathered her belongings and descended into Penn Station with the rest of the crowd. In a few short hours, she’d be having dinner with Susan, and they’d be chatting like two teenagers who had never been parted by the responsibilities of the adult world.