Honesty: A Guy’s Story

 

She's always here and she's always the same and sometimes I can't breathe

Sometimes I'll beat her home from work by ten minutes and this house actually seems like it's mine again.  I notice the afternoon sunlight filtering through the dusty venetian blinds. I hear the birds outside and I can smell the summer air.  Everything is perfect until the ten minutes are up, and she comes home to find me sitting on the steps of the front porch holding a vigorously sweating bottle of Stroh's by its slick brown neck. I hear her behind me and I feel her fingers slide through my hair before they slide over my chest. Her breasts push against my back and they feel bigger.  Maybe it's my imagination. I feel her breath on my neck as she speaks the other holy trinity.  She leans in to kiss me behind my ear and all I want to do is run.

 

***

 

Yesterday I was driving to work and the road was a drug.  It stretched out underneath the nose of my car like a

line waiting to be snorted to blissful oblivion. I think I intended to do just that until I passed a sign for the Tri-County Health Clinic.  That sign brought back all the memories the line of road had promised to relieve me of. Home pregnancy tests.  Sterile waiting rooms.  Tearful confessions. Even more tearful promises. I slowed down, suddenly sober, and continued on to work.

 

***

 

She's taken to calling me "Daddy.”

Four months ago, that would have excited me. She looks incredible now. Her skin has a dull sheen like a new penny or my old brass Zippo. Her eyes are alive for the first time since I've known her.

She talks about baby names, and it's all I can do not to break down and cry. I think about New Orleans, and how I'II never fall in love in the French Quarter, or at least never be able to act on it. I think about driving cross-country and how it doesn't seem like it will be much fun in a mini-van. I think about all of the ex-girlfriend stories I'II never have to add to my collection.  I think about how happiness has escaped me. I finally do break down.  She cries for three days straight.

 

***

 

We're driving back from the clinic and her face is still puffy from crying for three days straight. She's silent on the ride home, but those green eyes are still alive, now with hatred every time I speak.

She called her lawyer last night. It turns out that all we need is an annulment.

She sits beside me now, her back straight.

She is fragile and angry, and I think I love her now. Maybe honesty isn't always the best policy. We pull into the parking lot of her best friend’s apartment complex.  She silently refuses my offer to accompany her to the door.  I watch her on the movie screen of my windshield as she walks away, stiffly.  The doctor said she would be sore.  She makes it to the door and disappears inside.  I keep watching, but the credits never roll.

 

                                                                                                            Adam O’Neal