At the end we broke everything. Or it was already broken at the beginning.
In the bedroom clothes were waiting in the hamper for the wash. My bras and panties and your boxers and undershirts, my jeans and tees, your shorts and sweat socks. The room was divided and the sides didn’t meet except when you left your things all over. “You want some eggs,”you slurred. “I have a headache.” You came in drunk again last night and you fell onto the floor in the living room and it still smells of the bar near our apartment this morning. “Do you know where you are,” I thought, and the question was for both of us. Only one of us was drunk when you passed out on the checkered Ikea area rug near the sharp pointed edges of the glass-topped coffee table. Our wedding photo was there, in the middle.
I was sleeping and was coming up from the same dream when you woke me and asked about the eggs. For a long time I had been dreaming of a life without you. “I’m gonna scramble us some Saturday eggs with toast,” you said. The eggs have days, I thought, and ours were over.
I didn’t want any eggs. I wanted the you I thought I had from the beginning of everything before we broke it.
That morning, the eggs-and-toast-breakfast-while-hungover morning, I asked my friend if I should leave while you were working. I texted the question because hearing it out loud was the kind of final I wasn’t ready to handle yet. I sat at the edge of our unmade queen bed covered in my grandma’s quilt she made when I was back home all those years ago before an us was possible and messaged him about how everything felt over, how you wouldn’t change and blamed your drinking on my not supporting you, in the way addicts do these kinds of things.
Your side of the bed was missing the sleeping indent. The living room floor had your drunken sleeping indent. I sat there in my pajamas and stared at the door where your voice floated in from the kitchen. We hadn’t had any of our unsatisfying sex in a long time, I suddenly thought. I don’t know where that came from, the stray sex thought, but I knew I masturbated a lot. It just popped up, the thought. The end was at hand and time to go.
Later that day you left again and I wasn’t dressed. My friend from grad school, I’d lost him in the first place because you wouldn’t let me have any guy friends from before you and five years later at the end of everything he was on Twitter and I sent him a message. I was at work. He called me Mrs. in his message. Couldn’t help but smile at that. “I just don’t think he’ll change,” I wrote on the phone’s screen. “We tried therapy and even the therapist told him he had a drinking problem.” At the other end of the connection my grad school guy friend from five years ago wrote, “You want to stay a character in a story you’re no longer writing? Better to leave while he’s gone than to be a placeholder in his addiction struggle. Also where is his responsibility for the end of everything?” I couldn’t answer. “You need help moving let me know,” he promised.
I was too scared to confront you directly about the broken end of everything and was kind of a coward about it but there it was. But my leaving was closer.
I don’t know if people imagine they’ll have conversations about leaving home and ending their marriage while their husband’s at work, after they’ve sat in the sun on sloping green grassed hills and heard their bestfriend singing the song they asked her to sing at their wedding in front of two families with the piano and the arrangement sounded so beautiful. The crying at the end of the song was the applause and the applause was our thanks to my best friend who performed beautifully that day.
The drinking and me shouldering all these burdens and your refusal to help me, to try to change anything, made this broken run away while you were working ending the only one that was possible.
The drinking was a problem, more so than any of the other problems we spent our days sweeping under the refrigerator with the half-empty American Chinese food containers, cases of beer, the scraped metal pot of uncovered drying spaghetti and not much else in the way of home cooking inside. The other problems crowded the kitchen sink’s grey sudsy dishwater; they overflowed the bathtub; they clogged the toilet in the half bath; they crowded and scraped our cars in the parking lot outside our building.
I didn’t cook at the end. I wanted to cook in the beginning, for us to have meals as husband and wife and enjoy talking about our workdays and television and weekend plans and where we were going to travel. Our schedules didn’t let that become possible and you didn’t care and neither did I or the uncooked dinners.
A few days later I left. I don’t know how you were feeling or what you were thinking when you left work and drove home and I wasn’t there and you saw my stuff was gone. I was waiting for your call and it came and I still didn’t want to answer.
We were speaking, quietly. “Why’re you so…I don’t know…independent,” you asked, and I thought what that might mean to you, my independence. “I think you left because you don’t pray anymore. Have you prayed,” you asked, and I hadn’t because I didn’t see the point. Did you ask God to help you not drink, I wondered, because by my reckoning it wasn’t nearly enough, your just praying and asking. What I thought you needed was more doing. I bet God thought that, too.