She was already late and rushing made her crazy. Her boots—where did she leave her boots?
He handed her a cup of coffee.
She grabbed it quickly, sloshing a little on her toes. “Shit.” The dishes stood defiant in the sink; she wouldn’t have time for them, not this morning.
“Want something to eat?”
“No.” She never ate breakfast—didn’t he know that by now? Then a song she recognized came on the radio and she froze; her face drained white, with two spots of red where her cheeks burned.
His back was to her, perfect posture as he stood at the kitchen sink, slicing an apple. The long blade made a crunch as it pierced the skin, softly whooshed through the sweet flesh. Juice spilled out, making his fingers sticky, so he rinsed them under the tap.
He didn’t speak.
She knew he didn’t usually listen to lyrics. He was a fan of the music, the sweet or languid ribbons of sound released and winding from the shiny black radio into his ears. But this was too obvious, she thought, this was a musical slap in both their faces.
I still miss you.
I still miss you.
I tried sober; I tried drinking. I been strong and I been weak
And I still miss you…
She never spoke about the affair. He never asked. She assumed he assumed she was over it—it was so long ago, after all—before she had to color her hair, back when he wouldn’t dream of missing a workout or she, a night out with the girls.
But this song—this song split her heart, teased her with the memory of another’s lips, his sweat, the smell of his cologne.
Did he suspect?
I talked to friends, talked to myself, I talked to God
I prayed like hell
But I still miss you…
She’d returned, reluctant, repentant. They were married, what choice did she have? And her love had disappeared, vanished into the crowded world of work and politics, out there somewhere in the vast world that had become so small when they were together.
What would she say if he asked?
She used to rehearse her answer in the mirror, imagining different scenes, outside on the terrace, in a restaurant, a bar, but always the same answer: Of course not, darling! How can you even wonder? You were so great, so understanding and I was young and silly…
For a long time her girlfriends were sorry for her. Now they called her lucky.
She saw the toe of one boot sticking out from the closet door. She reached for it. “Did you hear the weather?”
“Why do you always ask me that?” He wiped the knife carefully and placed it in the drawer before reaching for the radio. “Let’s find out.”