The Day My Wife Left Me

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The End

I knew she was gone when I pulled into the driveway. The storm door was open, just a crack. Enough to tell that the bracket had been adjusted to allow for moving. I killed the engine and sat in the car, staring at the porch, watching the hammock swing sway in the wind. While I was at work, taking mundane phone calls about insurance premiums and rate increases, my wife had made her escape.

Her move wasn’t a complete surprise, it had been discussed in quiet, defeated voices. Preparations had been made. Terms of surrender, like the generals at the courthouse. The fights were frigid--without the passion to yell or emotion for tears--leaving the house still with a silence that seeped through the cracks at night. A haunting, pensive reminder of our failing relationship. It was only a matter of time.

I lumbered to the front steps like a man twenty years older, thirty. Two lines of matted grass in the yard told the tale of a truck being backed up to the house and my mind performed a quick inventory of who brought what into our failed union. The worn and frayed couch was mine, the coffee table hers, the television mine. What did it matter?

Source

Inside I was greeted by our lab, Wrigley, and I was thankful he had been left behind. I wondered what he'd seen. The old wooden floors creaked and groaned as I sat down and grasped our confused pup with heavy hugs and desperate praise.

It was a most impractical house, and for a while I included it on my list of reasons for my situation. Blame was easy. It was better than the alternative. We had moved in over a year ago and began playing house. At 30, I was ready to settle down. At 23, Marci was mature beyond her years. She wanted this house, I wasn't sure. But in the end we made an offer.

I signed papers and forms and waivers until my wrist ached. We took the keys, our smiles beaming with excitement. A new chapter. We painted, we moved, we had friends over and enjoyed sleeping without neighbors above and below us. We got a dog. We were distracted.

The next logical step was the ring. Things were falling into place, or maybe just falling. This is how it worked, I reasoned. Our marriage was an ocean front ceremony in North Carolina. Friends and family stayed at the beach house. A week long party ensued. By the time it was over we had hardly seen each other. Even after pledging our vows, we were both pulled in separate directions and spent most of the evening apart. The glare of the ocean was blinding, we couldn't see the red flags.

I first noticed something was wrong only three months into our experiment. We were still finding beach sand in the car and our marriage was already drifting apart. As a bartender at a popular restaurant, my wife's hours were late and mine were early. We became roommates, passing each other in the hall and going our separate ways. And now she was really gone...

I searched the rooms, my steps heavy with jealousy and shame. The computer and desk had vanished, along with her dresser, a mirror, clothes. I figured some guys from the bar where Marci worked had done the heavy lifting. There was no note. I let Wrigley outside and stood in the living room. What now?

I wasn’t sure what I felt. Relief? Depression? Fear? Kids played outside, squealing and laughing. A car whizzed past on the street, its speakers thumping with bass. The evening sun streamed through the large window. It must have been a great day for moving.

That night I sprawled out on the couch with my head aimed at the television, lost in a world of my own. Wrigley sighed heavily, his saddened, copper eyes following my restless shifting.

I was bitter. She had the easy role, making a break for it to start anew. I was left to wander the half empty rooms of our past, where her ghost remained in the house, her pictures still haunting the walls, her clothes mixed with mine in the dryer. Even the scented candles on the mantel brought a whiff of memories. The house was in my name, my burden to bear. We had been married for seven months.

What I remember the most about that first night were the gaps. Gaps where a bookshelf had stood, a framed square on the floor where a rug had been lifted. I climbed the stairs to to the ransacked room, where the bed remained along with a lonely dresser. The closet doors were splayed, revealing a few scattered hangers, a pair of flip flops, a curling iron that had survived the raid. I fell into the bed, reaching for the lamp out of habit, but there was no longer a table. Wrigley remained downstairs holding a vigil, creeping up the stairs in the early morning hours. Neither of us slept that night.

Source

Today

Today I'm happily married to the beautiful mother of my 8 month old son and everyday I'm thankful to have her in my life. I don't think I'd be the same person without this experience, so I wouldn't have it any other way. To me, it doesn't matter how I got here, just that I'm here.

I canceled cable to save money and with no distractions I fell into an unhealthy habit of retrospection. After our evening walks and disastrous attempts at cooking, Wrigley and I sat in uneasy silence. I replayed the pivotal events of my failed relationship. What I should have said or done differently. Where did it go wrong?

On the weekends--out of stubborn pride, I visited the bar where my estranged wife worked with the expected results. We were cordial to each other during these late night interludes, the bar between us acting as a buffer, identifying our roles. She’d close her eyes, offering a sympathetic smile. I’d laugh and play it cool, benumbed by the beer and attempting to appear unmoved by our split. No one was fooled.

Friends slapped me on the back, their way of asking if I was okay. I assured them that I was. She gave me a beer on the house and part of me thought that we just might work things out. Then I found out she was sleeping with her new neighbor. That one hurt. I started going to a different bar.

Over time the blame lessened. I stayed busy. I repainted the walls of the house, I walked with Wrigley. I biked, I even played tennis. I bought new candles and even cleaned once or twice. I laughed at myself. Time brought patience, along with experience and age--perhaps the greatest teachers of life.The seasons changed. At some point when I wasn’t paying attention, I crawled out of my shell and quit feeling sorry for myself.

And then on a cold winter day she returned. There was a light tap at the door. I invited her into the house she had fled months ago. For so long I had dreamed of her homecoming. But the want was gone. I had changed. I let her speak her part, but to me she felt like a guest, no longer a ghost who tormented my thoughts at night. She signed the papers and our mistake was undone, at least legally. (It seemed all of our milestones required signatures). I wished her well with the rest of her life and she turned for the door, downtrodden and slow, slinking down the steps towards her car in the driveway. It was a walk I recognized.

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32 comments

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Pete - This one left me stunned. As I read I thought, "This is a very good short story written about a marriage breakup by a happily married person, yet it gives an accurate perspective of the death of a marriage." Then I read the sidebar.

Even when a story is fictional, a writer's personal experiences inform the events within the piece. When it's autobiographical, we have the raw material and recall of emotions from which to work. The process can range from introspective to cathartic.

Voted Up and Awesome

Jaye


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

This is sad, yet beautifully written. It is a shame when relationships just don't work out.


Lori P. profile image

Lori P. 3 years ago from Southern California USA

My gosh, you expressed the hollowness in the aftermath so well.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Dang it Pete I wanted a happy ending. Don't we always hope for "they lived happily ever after?" But, reality says differently. Bittersweet and awesome short story!!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Jane, I appreciate the kind words!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Jeannie, it all worked out in the end though!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for reading Lori, I appreciate it!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Sunshine! I'm living the happy part now!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

Wow, Pete. Really well done.


resspenser profile image

resspenser 3 years ago from South Carolina

Excellent, well done!


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

Wow, that was a well-written story. The imagery is great, and the explanation of how you felt. I'm glad that it has only been one chapter of your life, that you recovered from it, and that you are happily married to someone else, a start to a new and better life. It's good to recognize that even the bad times are useful parts of our lives, and we wouldn't be the same person without those painful moments.

Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great day.

~ Kathryn


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Yay! Way to go Pete!


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

Imagine someone leaving a marriage to have an affair, and like a mutt after the prowl, return to claim her/his territory. It is good that the abandoned partner was strong enough to recognize a weak spouse who would probably have made a career of walking when things got tough. Tough times demand work, not abandoning ship, unless the situation is unsafe. Also, a bar is not a good place for a wife or husband to work--too many temptations and opportunities to cheat with a lonely drinker with a million sob stories.

What a great story! I just love stories that give me an opportunity to defend someone. "Poor guy" is something I rarely say because I often find myself defending women. But, for the road, "Poor guy, and so glad he got over it!" I speak as if this is not fiction because I know that it happens to many individuals, even men.

Thanks for a great work. Up, useful, awesome, interesting, and sharing!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for stopping by Levertis, and this isn't fiction, it was true, with only a few names changed!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Deobrah!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you Resspenser!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Kathryn, I appreciate the read and kind words!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Sunshine!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

You really wrote the story of the breakup of your marriage very well, capturing all the emotions and those things we do to find where we belong in life. Very well done.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Pete - I returned to read the comments. When you can write so that readers aren't sure whether they're reading fiction or reality--that's good writing!

Jaye


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Great story. It is so great that you now have a happy life. You told the breakup story well,step by step, with emotion. You probably would do well with fiction, also, with this ability. Good luck with traffic and writing. Audrey


MJennifer profile image

MJennifer 3 years ago from Arizona

Wow. What a beautifully-told, poignant description of the end of what had barely begun. You're a tremendous writer, and I can barely wait to end this comment so I can push the "follow" button on your profile.

Best -- MJ


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Well thank you mjennifer, I'll go do the same!


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

This is beautiful! I kept thinking of my son when I read it... his first marriage lasted 7 months, too. Today he is happy, and engaged to a beautiful woman he will marry next August. You've expressed all the emotions beautifully, great write! :)


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Kathy, and I'm happy for your son!


MarloByDesign profile image

MarloByDesign 3 years ago from United States

This one Hub I had to go back and read a second time - wonderfully written! Voted UP and AWESOME.


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey thanks Mario, I appreciate it!


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

You opened yourself up and let us in to hear your story and the range of emotions that you experienced. Superbly written! Sometimes, the difficult moments we experience in our lives make us better people in the Long run. You have now been blessed with a beautiful family that you can truly appreciate because of your past experiences. You are a better and stronger person because of it. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up)

-Rose


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Well said Rose, thanks!


AUPADHYAY profile image

AUPADHYAY 3 years ago from INDIA, UTTAR PRADESH STATE, KANPUR CITY

The heart touching story, sensitivity finds here alone. Breaking a marriage breach is not a wise step. Things are to be understood and the problems are to be solved. In my opinion, there is no problem which is beyond the capacity of a human being to be faced. I appreciate your power of facing the worst situation of a married life. This power will show you the colour of life. A new spectrum is waiting for you. Be sure, life never ends, it changes it's path. A very sensitive hub you have explored. Thanks for sharing it.


Ashley Suddreth profile image

Ashley Suddreth 3 years ago

That absolutely broke my heart. I am so glad I read the sidebar. At least it held that happy ending that we all hope for. Thank you for sharing your story. I pray that God blesses your new family and your precious little one. :)


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Reads like a novel ~ deep, touching, poignant, and yet real, right? Brilliantly written.

You're a real man, Weestro. Taking the pains and yet bowing gracefully, holding your honour.

Most of us do not see the inner life, the reasons things are as they are. Pardon my indulgement here, but ultimately what ever happens in Divine Providence is always for the best, as there is no alternative.

Somehow I feel that you are wiser for this. Much peace.

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