It’s Wednesday night, date night. He’s sitting across from me, uninvolved, vacant, eating. The food sucks. The atmosphere sucks. My husband doesn’t love me anymore. It was October.
Disconnect happens, it happens all the time, but it’s insidious and I wasn’t paying attention, the absent-minded professor living in a world where the eagle eye gets the worm. Now he was off-putting and I was too late. A conversation was long overdue.
Her name crept into our home months before. He said they had lunch together. He said she needed a ride to work. He said he felt sorry for her. He said he wanted me to meet her. I declined. I overestimated his promise to me and I underestimated his needs.
He pointed her out to me at the company picnic. “Do you want to meet her?” He asked. I said, “No.” She was nothing to look at, just slender flat and hunched over, calling up the image of a squaw wearing jeans and a flowered shirt. She had sad, droopy eyes, and damaged brown hair . I couldn’t imagine a smile on her face. It was August.
At dinner that night I felt innocent, pure, inculpable like a child who sees her reflection in the mirror for the first time. So I said the words without forethought as would a child who anticipates happy answers to unhappy questions and like a child I expected my fears to be waylaid with grown-up justification.
I said, “I don’t feel connected to you anymore.”
He said, “I don’t feel connected to you anymore either.”
The mirror cracked.
Just then the waitress came to ask us about our meal. I wonder if she noticed that I had been blindsided? He never skipped a beat. I lost my appetite waiting for him to say something else, but nothing came and I was speechless. He looked up a few times and caught me starring at him. He looked awful. I looked around at the other couples, laughing, talking, some half drunk and I wanted that to be us again. I wished I could rewind time and stop it at just the right moment where the red flag dropped and I would have seen this coming, but I never did. The sounds started to eat away at me and the orange light got to be ugly and I searched the spot across the table for my husband, and while the seat was taken, he was already gone. I asked if we could leave.
The memory of that night and those that followed have still not lost their color and I often wish they would fade to black or gray or muddy brown. We argued. He told me he wasn’t feeling well. He had trouble keeping food down. Sometimes he gagged for no reason. One morning he left for work without his phone and she called him. I made him play her message that night. She offered him her ear, if he ever needed to talk. I accused him and he denied everything.
I asked him to leave. It was November.
They’re married now.