Mr. and Mrs. Spencer

They lay down, side by side on the king size bed covered by a soft silk mattress. The only light in the room came from the Victorian lampshade giving off an elegant orange-y yellow glow on the end table. They lay down, side by side, but not really together.

Their thirty-three years of marriage had become dragging; it was all well for the first two decades with a few minor bumps here and there, but had eventually lost its passion through time. Not one of them could say it was tragic – though any of them could easily tell it was over but nobody ever said it.

He lay in his usual place, the right side, an arm on his forehead. She took the left half, her body angled slightly so that her back was turned on him, a book on her hands. A considerable distance was present between them, a subconscious manifestation of their expiring love.

Thoughts about his day – work, the busy hours at the office, the meeting with difficult co-workers, or how his secretary spilled coffee on a very important contract. The funny situation with the hotdog vendor that morning, when he handed him two lollipops as change, saying “here’s your change for a change, maybe they’ll change something” in a tone so cheery he found it needless to argue. These he would be very much happy to discuss with his wife, just so he could get it off his chest, or for the sake of conversation, like the old times, but she seems too faraway right now, with her face intently buried on A Secret. He wasn’t even sure if she was still reading or had fallen asleep, because he had grown afraid to look at her because he wasn’t certain he knew this person anymore. He knew the answer perfectly, he didn’t need the confirmation. He didn’t want the confirmation.

They had stopped talking, sleeping, doing anything together. They had stopped being husband and wife around ten years ago. He wondered if she even loved him anymore, because she had not uttered those words for so long, he had been unsure.

He hasn’t remembered talking to his two children since the past few months, no, years, and he wondered how they were doing. He used to get hugs and kisses from his youngest whenever he got back from work – now she barely lifts her head to acknowledge him, or worse, she wouldn’t even be able to acknowledge him because she’d be locked up in her room. His eldest became all grown up and has his own stuff already. It saddens him every time but he has never given these much thought until now. At least he had work to keep him busy until bedtime, when he’d usually retire in exhaustion leaving no time to think about such things.

She shifted in her position, now lying on her back, lessening the distance between her and her husband by almost an inch. She held the book to stomach level, where the words appeared clearer to her failing eyesight. To be quite honest, she wasn’t paying much attention to the book she had on her hands. Her mind drifted off to other things. The reading was a ploy to inhibit conversation, as she didn’t have much to say, or she didn’t know the right words, like the past years.

Thirty three years of marriage, but it feels like only twenty or so years of being together. What a crying shame, for she had always fervently loved this man. She couldn’t tell what had gone wrong in their relationship, how it had gone from the picture-perfect Sundays on the patio to no talking at all.

She had once presumed that maybe he has another. Then again, it was unfair to think of him that way as he had always been a good husband, had always worked so hard to establish this family, to give her and their children a more than comfortable life.

He never seems to be present, he was always preoccupied with god-knows-what, work maybe, it almost always is. She wondered if he only stuck around for the last ten years for their children, or due to sentimentalism.

How she missed those Sundays when they sat on the patio, drinking coffee, watching their two kids playing on the swing he had built – an old tire tied to the oak tree in front of their house. It was still there but no one uses it anymore; it served only as a reminder of the good old days.

Out of reflex, she turned the page, the crisp sound of the paper colliding against another piercing the silence. The page read:

He was gone before her very eyes, taking away his baggage on his back and half of her heart with him. His figure grew smaller and smaller into the distance; and all she could do was watch him slip from her hands

He was gone before her very eyes, taking away his baggage on his back and half of her heart with him. His figure grew smaller and smaller into the distance; and all she could do was watch him slip from her hands

She was overwhelmed with fear that her marriage might have been over before she had even realized it. Has he lost his love for her in the past ten dull years, just as she has been confused whether it was keeping her family together or her love for him that’s helping her hold on?

She thought back on all their happy moments – one thing she hasn’t done until now – and realized she wasn’t prepared to lose it all. She was not quite ready to lose the man she had always loved.

Tears started to well on her eyes, but she fought enough to hold it in. She gripped the book on her hands by the edges, to relieve what tension was still possible to release without having to cry.

Hours had seemed to pass with him staring at the ceiling. From his peripheral view, he noticed his wife’s body tense up. He couldn’t sleep. Something terrible in the corner of his mind bothered him.

And then it hit him; a matter he should’ve pondered on a long time ago. If he weren’t so busy with other things, he would’ve seen the problem right in front of him – him, his wife, his two children haven’t had dinner together for the past ten years, or any other meal of the day, in fact. It wasn’t only him and his wife who have stopped being together; they have altogether ceased being a family. His wife was slipping away from him; his family was turning to shambles. He could only wish there was still something – anything – he could do.

Other troubles seemed to dampen in comparison to this crack threatening his whole life, everything he had worked – lived – for, to crumble.

Where does one start after ten years of reserve? Searching for the words, he took his arm from his forehead, meaning to place it on his side when it hit something inside his pocket. He was still wearing his work pants, he gathered.

“I have two lollipops on my pocket… d’you want one?” Out of nowhere, he casually blurted out.

It took her a moment before she understood that he meant those words for her. She turned his head to face him, and she looked at him. He stared back, the lollipops in his hand.

For the first time in ten years, they looked into each other’s eyes and saw someone iridescent, beautiful. For the first time in a long while, something inside them rekindled.

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