Quietly

Year one.
Bliss sweet like a candy that hurts your teeth,
hope a balloon so big it might just carry you to all the places you plan to go
to, London
to islands
to bed
to the jeweler to get a ring sized and a commitment as rock solid as a diamond.

Year five.
Things are quieter now
but still good like Christmas lights that make the walls look softer,
warm
under the covers while you each read
different books
kissing only when you turn out the light and roll over
smiling and snug and soft.

Year ten twelve fifteen sixteen nineteen
kids and minivans and mud.
You live for someone else now.
He is your second string
and you his best friend,
his habit,
the routine he’ll always be fond of
but no longer the one that makes him rise quickly in the morning,
excited and dizzy and only slightly aware of the tired in his bones.

Year twenty six.
The house is emptying slowly,
a movie theater when the credits start rolling
and you two are the ones that can’t bear to leave
before all the names have scrolled past, white and blurry
and boring.
You fight more, grocery shop less—
take-out is easier to eat in different rooms.
He is downstairs watching old Westerns with the dog sprawled lazily at his feet,
you are on the couch reading.
You talk more to your sister on the phone than to each other,
and only kiss on holidays
quick and closed mouthed in front of the kids.
Your gift to them.
“Merry Christmas!” you shout from across the mountain that has sprouted between your side of the bed
and his.
You shut off the light without asking,
expressionless,
because he has already fallen asleep without saying goodnight.

Year thirty three.
Your daughter is taller than you now
and honest.
Why don’t you just get a divorce?
The only thing worse than the question is that you don’t have an answer for it.
Car rides long and alone
are the only things you love unconditionally anymore.
You write in a journal, on paper plates and notepads that are meant for lists,
but the ink is dull and your words are drab
and you make your loops and sentences slowly, without any light behind your eyes
or purpose behind your pen.
You pace back and forth from empty room to emptier room,
twirling your ring, dingy and gold and loose on your bony finger.
Your wedding dress sits yellowing in the attic.
It doesn’t fit your body anymore, your arms and thighs and tummy that have become doughy over the years,
but it’s still there.
Decaying alone, happily ever after.

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