A short story, written after seeing this cartoon.


Completely sober, running on four cups of coffee and several spoonloads of sugar, Laura paced her kitchen floor, waiting for her husband to come home from the office.

He was often late, having one of those 9 to 5 jobs that never ended at 5. He was usually home around 6:30, if he didn’t go out for a drink with some of the other guys who worked in the same office building. It was really convenient that there was a bar in the lobby of the building, Dave always said. Laura never really understood why this would be a convenience, but she learned about two years ago not to get into any conversations that could lead to more of what she’s been avoiding.

He still touched her, but not in the same way. Now it was a mixture of chore and possession. It was more of what he wanted, and less of what she needed. They didn’t have any children. Wasn’t it time? Weren’t they at the age when couples start having kids, start planning for the future, Laura often thought.

Dave came home around 7, and put his briefcase on the small table in the hallway, like he did every single night. Laura knew not to touch the briefcase or even put anything of hers on that table. It was my table, Dave would often remind her, even if she never needed to be reminded. Then, like almost every night, Dave would drink an entire bottle of wine. He would even pour her a drink, but it would often just sit near her plate, half-full. She never knew if he even wanted her to drink it, so she would take a few sips and then clear the table. She always remembered to smile.

Dave went into the living room. ESPN Classic was showing that game again. He knew the outcome, but found comfort in watching it over and over. He kept the remote close to him on the sofa.

Laura stood at the sink and wondered if her friends who had kids were doing the dishes at that moment. Were the kids running around the kitchen, getting under her feet, maybe tickling each other? She thought of a life like that. How she would stand at the sink and sigh that her kids were acting up, but she’d secretly love it.

She noticed that it had begun to rain, the water hitting the roof in a pattern and rhythm that reminded her of a favorite song from her teen years. But she couldn’t remember the name of it, or who sang it. She just knew that it was something that she once liked.

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