They had finished bathing the baby. She was asleep in the pack-n-play. The dog’s constant pacing made the temporary apartment feel smaller than it was. Not that it mattered now. The seller had accepted their latest offer on the house, so only a month remained until they closed and would be reunited with their own stuff.
“I care about you,” she began to answer. He couldn’t remember what question he had asked. “But I don’t like you,” she concluded.
She wore the same resigned look he had grown tired of seeing for the past two years. Ever since the stripper.
“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this information,” he said. “Why would I want to live with someone who doesn’t like me? I’m glad you care about me, but to me that’s not as noble as you just made it sound. I’m taking the dog to pee. Is the trash full?”
Without their separate beds he let her have the covers and slept in his sleeping bag. Sleeping bags added a level of fun to any night so he didn’t mind. He was all out of fight himself as well, especially over something as trivial as sheets.
The closing was uneventful. He tried to stay positive about the new job that didn’t pay as much as they hoped. She tried to not stress about shift work on the weekends. With each passing day his walk to the bar seemed shorter; her options, fewer.
She went out with a co-worker after he returned from happy hour with a friend. Waking by himself at two-thirty he figured she was on her way. At three his worry hardened into a decision. He was never going to feel knots like those in his stomach again. Never. Four am will forever sound to him like a door handle, the bathroom fan, and the plop of vomit into toilet water.
After the baby went to sleep the next night they were finally alone. He raged. She sat as he lectured. With each non-response he raised his volume.
The following morning she behaved as if the fight was over. For her, the cycle was complete. For him, the marriage was. Some cycles should never be repeated.
She followed him out of the house for a few steps after he said divorce. He answered the phone thirty minutes later. She told him her parents had two attorneys ready to schedule a consultation.
He now lies to himself that the hurt has decreased since that morning–the morning that she didn’t even put up a fight.