Post

The De-militarised Zone

“He was not very pretty,” she said reluctantly, and wrapped the phone cord around and between her fingers. Silence echoed across the fly-over states. “What’s Seattle like this summer?”

She could hear the confused look on his face. He pitched his voice low, as one always does when placating the insane. “About the same as every summer. Who wasn’t very pretty, exactly?”

“L’homme avec qui j’ai sorti hier soir.”

“Your French still sucks.” He could be brutal when he felt the truth excused it. “Why did you go out with him if you didn’t find him pretty?”

“The same reason I married you even though you were gay ?”

His awkward laugh failed to break the tension, but she chose not to pursue it. “It’s been a while since we spoke. Are you all right?” She didn’t really want to ask. Not that she didn’t care, but she was pretty sure he didn’t feel she had the right to know any longer. The question was mostly enlightened self-interest, anyway. He still had her stuff, and as shipping costs had in no way been lessened by the rising price of oil, she didn’t really see any way she was getting her silverware and her shoes back soon. His well-being was her guarantee of safe storage.

He let the question hang in the air for long seconds, nearly a full minute. She toed the curled edge of the linoleum with her sneaker. His answer did not surprise her. “The transit of Venus was beautiful. The Vernal Equinox was hard on me, though. I didn’t expect it to hit my liver so hard. “

She took a sad breath and dove back into the crazy pool. “You probably should have. Liver is the Yin of the Wood element. Wood is Spring, remember?”

There was an odd click in the phone line. Simultaneously, they tested the waters. “You there?”

She grew sadder, still, remembering how they would have giggled about synchronicity before the legal stuff had messed everything up. People thought it had been the divorce that was so tragic. Only the two of them knew it had been getting married in the first place that was the mistake.

To be fair, her parents felt it was a bad choice, too- but for different reasons, and not the kind she was likely to account as reasonable. She needed the call to end. “I’m going to go. Are you feeling in a suitable place in the conversation to do that?” After three years of separation, she still couldn’t stop herself from being careful for him.

As usual, he wielded spiritual wakefulness and politesse as weapons. “Thank you for asking. I’m fine. We will speak again before the year is ended, Dark Eyes.”

She winced. The appellation was beautiful, but its intent felt skewed. It used to be a sweet nickname. Now, it re-established comfortable distance.

“Good night, then.”

“No more ugly people,” he said, before she could hang up. She was tempted to set the phone down anyway, but she didn’t believe you were mannerly for the benefit of other people, and she wasn’t about to change herself for this particular set of circumstances.

“I’m sorry?”

He repeated himself, ever patient. In his educator’s voice. She thanked her God privately that she was no longer attached to him.

“I never said he was ugly, “ she clarified. “He was beautiful. I just didn’t happen to like him. His face had nothing to do with it.”

He would never admit aloud that he still thought of her as his wife, at least not in her hearing. But someone else was courting her, and he was not ready to let her be self-destructive with his own resources. He planned to need her next year. “Just be careful, okay?”

“That’s about the most normal thing you’ve ever said. I will. Good night.”

She hung up before he could answer, then felt guilty and slid to the floor, scraping the underside of her leg on the crappy tiling. The handset rattled in its cradle and fell to the floor beside her fingers still twined in the cord.
RascallyRabbit RascallyRabbit 31-35, F 13 Responses Jun 27, 2012

Your Response

Cancel

Rabbit has a Tumblr ?

she does.

* sigh * A not-so-quick search only revealed Jessica Rabbit's Tumblr. Is it weird to get hard to a cartoon?

if that's weird we're all screwed. er... * sigh * * faceplant * PM me and i'll hook you up.

Rabbit, words and stories are powerful like the pen. Yours border on being weapons...great writing

I love it! Hate feeling sad but love how you can draw out that feeling.

What I find lovely about this story is that I felt like I knew both of them. I understood what each was saying....<br />
<br />
Well done!

Your writing leaves me breathless.

This is so meloncholy & beautiful. <3

angular. oblique. unpredictable. filled with allusion, negative space, the reader fills it in. It's a French movie, I can see the yellow subtitles.

I can't imagine anyone reading this and not wanting to hold you. I know I do.

There's truth and influence in everything we write. You manage to add meaning and color to the seemingly mundane of every day life. A simple conversation by someone I barely know to someone I know only by your past hints of "husband who is gay; doomed from the start" leaves maddening questions for me, curious and strangely concerned. It's the mark of an excellent writer to allow the reader to see from her eyes, hear nuance from her lips, feel little streams coming together and to care.

Thanks so much, guys. In a lovely, lovely twist of fate, the same day i finished writing this was the date on the message i received from my actual husband. Saying he's divorced his heart from me. On facebook. * sigh *

That's a bummer.

that's a relief. just.. badly timed. the story may be fiction, but he really does have my silverware.

Brava.

gifted.

I'm pretty much speechless. I really don't know how you manage to capture those akward silences, those words that people don't have the courage to say, so very, very well. It's perfect.