Friday, June 20, 2008
How it happened
She picked at the lint on her skirt as her attorney explained it all to her but she wasn’t really listening. If she did she would fall apart so looking down at her skirt she was thankful she’d worn the red angora sweater so she could focus all her attnetion on the little red fuzz. It was the only thing that was helping her hold on to the last bit of sanity she possessed.
She’d been trying to figure it out for days, weeks, even months on end. She would think she had pinpointed the exact thing that had brought them to this place and then she would change her mind. Was it all the stress? The factory had burned down. He had been driven then, focusing all his rage and frustration on getting it rebuilt. Was it the two miscarriages? That had certainly been hard on them. Was it, well really there were so many other things. But as she pondered it further, she decided that it wasn’t any of those things specifically.
She was certain that it was something barely perceptible that had begun the unraveling. Like an afghan that you catch your ring on, just the smallest of snags and you think nothing of it at the time. She wondered what it could have been, an unkind word, a thoughtless remark, some inattentiveness. Something had opened a space between them, and with the additional pressure of life and time that space had grown larger.
It could have been repaired, if they had recognized the need for it. If he, well really there was no point in laying blame. It wasn’t his fault alone, they were both to blame after all. Even as the space began to grow, becoming more perceptible, something could have been done. But, they had never really acknowledged that there was a space there, tucking it under so it was hidden. Of course that didn’t help; it seemed to grow larger while it was out of sight.
She didn’t know when it was that they stopped holding hands. What an odd thing to think about? But maybe it was a sign that they were no longer standing together. After the car accident, they grew even more distant. The pain in his back was unceasing and it made him irritable. She had tried to reach out to him but he retreated into his own shell, becoming less communicative, less responsive to her. She had become angry and critical and soon they were pulling further and further apart. The space between them had become a giant gaping hole, loose ends everywhere, unfinished conversations, disappointments, frustration.
They lived like that for a long time until finally, he called it quits. He told her he couldn’t do this anymore. He packed his things and left on the 9:45 train. The paperwork had been drawn up by the family attorney. She looked up when she realized he had stopped talking. He indicated where she should sign the dissolution of marriage. As she picked up her handbag a pair of knitting needles fell to the ground.
“What are you making?’ The attorney asked.
“I was thinking of making an afghan” she replied. Then she stopped and tossed the needles in a trash can next to the desk. “I don’t think I’ll bother. It would only come apart eventually.”