“Can’t, I have to go.”
“You always say that.”
“Only when I need to leave.”
I can still hear the corny music on the jukebox, the clinking of the glasses. The barkeep heard our chiming, collected his money, a too generous tip. We left, bade each other platonic adieus, walked separately to our separate families. How I miss my travelling days!
At home, always the same or nearly the same scene: I open the door, panting after my three story climb, my wife at the range frying or boiling something. “About time you got back.”
“I was delayed.”
“I bet,” smelling my breath, it’s cheap vodka, not kissing me. “Did you pick up the bread?”
“I forgot. I can go get some.”
“Don’t bother, it’s late, you may get delayed again, besides bread makes me fat. Do I look fat in this?” She twirls away from the steaming stove.
I say nothing or say something mollifying. My expression does or does not give me away, I can never tell with her, besides she isn’t fat. We eat in silence, our son long gone, the damn TV still on, a carafe of mineral water our only splurge. I pick at my meal, not wanting to mix drink and food, that’s why I’m too thin.
“If you drank less, we’d both eat better.”
I rise, clean off my plate, return, put my arms on her shoulders, nuzzle her ineptly, we don’t kiss. “But we wouldn’t be so happy.”
by Clyde Liffey
Clyde Liffey lives near the water.