There was an afternoon in September when Carrie was going someplace or another, and there was too much traffic and she got out of the cab and walked down the middle of Madison Avenue in an expensive pantsuit. Let’s face it, she thought: You own this town.
“Listen, sweetie,” Mr. Big had said, several weeks earlier, “people don’t like you as much as you’d probably like to think they do.”
“Yeah? So what?” She got a beer out of the refrigerator.
“They think you have an agenda. But they don’t know what it is.”
“Is that supposed to be my problem?”
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about.”
“Who are these ‘people,’ anyway?”
“I’m just trying to give you some advice,” he said. “I’m just trying to help you. You’re too aggressive.”
Carrie felt herself slipping into that bad place again in her head. For the umpteenth time in months.
“If you want to help me, don’t regale me with the misguided, ignorant opinions of your coddled, spoiled friends, who don’t even have the guts to be single,” she screamed. “Who never had to eat hot dogs for a month because they didn’t have enough money to buy damn food. O.K.? So don’t tell me I’m too aggressive.”
That’s right: You own this town.
She hadn’t expected to break up that weekend. She was expecting to remain in a holding pattern. Hating him, loathing herself. Going through the routine motions of the relationship.
That week, she’d stayed out at the big house in East Hampton by herself. He called every evening at 11. One evening he called and said some 30-year-old soap star had been flirting with him at an event.
“Am I supposed to be impressed by this?” she said.
“You’re getting awfully cocky,” she said. “What makes you think you can be so damn cocky?”
“I don’t want to have this conversation.”
“You never want to have any conversation,” she said.
When he turned up Friday early evening, she was lying in bed, watching the progress of the hurricane on the Weather Channel. Watching the satellite pictures over and over. “It’s going to be a miss,” she said. “It’s always a damn miss.”
“Remember last year?” he said.
It had been one of their best weekends, even though she’d nearly drowned. On Sunday after the so-called hurricane, they’d gone to the beach and the waves had carved the beach in half. Everyone was swimming in the backwash and it was warm and deceptively tempting, and Carrie had gotten rolled by a wave and swept down the beach, panicking but also realizing, with that strange detachment that occurs in moments of danger, that her mouth was open and she was screaming.
It hadn’t occurred to her that when you were drowning, your mouth would be open, water rushing in.
She washed up on shore, and when she got out, Mr. Big was standing there, laughing.
She was drowning and he thought it was funny.