Written by C. J. Fox
“So… you don’t love me?” I asked, calmly despite the loaded question. I leaned up against our blue Camry and folded two skinny, dingy arms across my chest.
He threw a hoe down into the ground but not with anger or any sort of feeling that might have made me feel better. It was emotionless. He was contemplative only in what he was doing, not what he had done to me. He rubbed a dirty fist against his eyebrow, slowly revolving around on two brown, unlaced, muddy boots. I bent over and picked up a red screwdriver and handed it to him.
Taking it, he said, “That’s what I said, isn’t it?”
This was not my soap opera and this sure as hell wasn’t my fairytale. Plain and simple, not even then the concern over a business deal. I was just a bottle of antifreeze he had decided not to buy.
He moved from his project in the yard and started wrenching at something in the car, the source of the loud gurgling noise I got when I tried to get to work.
“So what now?”
He looked up at me with two brown eyes, the color of the richest dirt. He snuffed out an itch on his nose with his forearm and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, nothing.”
“You can’t stay married to me if you don’t love me anymore.”
He pressed his arms down on the front of the car, the answer so obvious to him. “Sure I can. People do it.”
I bit the inside of my cheek and nodded. This was my life. I had a car that didn’t work, a garden that wouldn’t produce a bloom, and a husband that didn’t love me. The way it should have gone, what I should have done was pick up a Phillips and chuck it at his head and then leave him triumphantly. But I didn’t. I knew what happened to the women who did that. They ended up living in shabby one rooms just off the highway out of town and watching television that came in and out like their love lives. Maybe that was for them but it certainly wasn’t for me. I went back inside and sat at the wicker dining table, finishing my crossword. The last clue was “a postnuptial tradition” and it was a nine letter word. I scribbled “honeymoon” into the white spaces and dropped my pencil, shoving the puzzle away. The puzzle was done and I’d found my answer. Nobody ever said the key to your puzzle unlocked your dream life anyways. My father wasn’t madly in love with my mom any more than my husband was with me. My key didn’t unlock Barbie’s dreamhouse. It unlocked my inheritance and I can’t say I was altogether surprised. I’d been taught long ago that you keep the other woman around because you love her. You keep the wife around because you need something to make you seem honest, no different than adding high school to your resume.
C. J. Fox
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