Fred grimaced as he walked slowly and painfully to the kitchen. He had been up all night, was hungry and in need of a strong cup of coffee. And Vera wasn’t here to fix it for him. The argument they had earlier that evening was one of the worst of their marriage, perhaps the worst ever.
Well it was over now, she was gone. It wasn’t the first time. But he was certain it would be the last.
Fred crossed over to the electric range, put the coffee pot on the burner and sat down heavily. He picked up the phone. Pressing a number on the speed dial, he leaned back and waited.
“Hullo?” a sleepy voice said. Fred glanced at his watch. Six-thirty. Early for Sarah.
“Did I wake you?”
“It’s okay,” Sarah said.
“Vera left me.” Fred spoke the words in a monotone without emotion.
Fred gave a humorless laugh. “Yeah. Again.”
“How many times does that make, Fred?” Sarah asked.
There was a brief silence. Fred shifted the phone from one ear to the other.
“This is the third time this year,” he said finally. “But this time it’s for good.”
“How can you say that? She always comes back.”
“Not this time. Listen, I’ve been married to her for nine years. I know her. She won’t be back.”
“I…” Sarah started, but Fred cut her off.
“This time she cleaned out the closet, took her jewelry and threw away anything she didn’t want.”
Sarah clucked. “That does sound like she means it this time. Sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Fred replied. “It’s better this way. The marriage was over a long time ago.”
“Does she know about us?”
“Probably. At least she knew there was another woman, even if she didn’t know it was you.”
“Too bad. But it would explain why she is doing this. No woman wants to live like that.”
“Yeah,” Fred agreed. “But she was no paragon of virtue, you know.”
“You mean, she was…?”
“Forget it,” Fred said. “She’s gone and that’s all that matters. Gone for good. I’m glad.”
“Glad? Are you sure? You’re not just saying that.”
“I’m good,” Fred said.
Cradling the phone to his ear, Fred took a cup from the cabinet and filled it with coffee. He took a tentative sip, made a face and sat back down.
“When will I see you again?” Sarah asked.
“Let’s give it a few days,” Fred said.
“Why not today?”
“I need a little time, that’s all.”
“Then you’re not okay. I can tell.”
“I’m fine Sarah. Really.”
He hung up, arched his aching back and rubbed his neck. Gone for good. Fred frowned and straightened up. He wasn’t sure that this was quite true, at least the “gone” part of it. She wasn’t gone—not really. But with proper placement of the washing machine, the new patch of cement in the basement would never show.
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