“How much is it going to cost me to get rid of you?”
I’m watching his mouth as he says this, as my beloved husband says this, and the world whinnies to a halt. It’s the middle of the day at Spring Lodge, a bar in the village, a time when only the hardcore are shooting the shit and halfheartedly watching soccer.
I am looking around to see if someone else heard what came out of my beloved husband’s mouth.
I turn back to him, sure I will see the soft eyes, the crooked smile that usually animates his face.
Instead, his mouth starts to move in slow motion again, each word spat, as if gargling with peroxide.
“I said, how much is it going to cost me to get rid of you?”
This snake hissing in the sun is real.
I come to.
“150.” I spit back.
“One hundred fifty thousand dollars?”
“One hundred fifty thousand dollars.”
“You thieving bitch.”
He flips up the end of the table as he rises, storming to the door. I watch the flaps of his cashmere coat pick up the wind.
A moment later he is coming through the door again, headed straight back to me. Maybe an apology, tears, begging for forgiveness, a bended knee. Maybe lifting my chin for a kiss that will melt this whole thing into a tiny, easily jumped puddle.
He grabs the furry bomber hat on the opposite chair. The one I bought him while I was at an artist residency in upstate Vermont. The fellowship agreement said that I was being given time and space to seclude myself from the perils of the outside world. Instead, I spent the days sneaking calls to him and once, in the middle of the night, I drove the five hours back to the city, just to wake up next to him in the garden apartment we shared.
That was before he jumped out of the passenger seat of my moving car in the middle of a snowstorm, before he made me watch as he looked up how to get a permit for a handgun, and before he said he’d throw my new rescue puppy in front of a car.
That was before the baby, maybe not totally dead, I’ll never know, slipped into the toilet and was fished out by the doctor.
My beloved husband sinks his fingers into the gray fur hat lining.
He holds it for a moment in the sun.
“My motherfucking hat.”
“Your motherfucking hat.”
Anya Liftig is a writer and performance artist. Her work has been written, performed and published in numerous venues in the United States and abroad. Her first book, a memoir, is forthcoming. www.anyaliftig.com
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/barnimages.com
Brilliant hard hitting sparing no emotion of what once was joy but has turned to sorrow
Want to read more of your compelling depiction
What a gift you have.