Though it’s been months since we’ve talked, my ex-husband calls on
a Sunday afternoon and asks what I’m doing that night. “The grunions are running,”
Todd says. “Care to see them?” I’m sitting in my living room surrounded
by boxes half-filled with books, an island in a sea of cardboard, and I should
stay home and pack, not head out in the middle of the night. But next week I’ll
leave California, and this could be my last chance. Plus, I need to tell him I’m
At quarter to twelve the night is dark and cool, and I grab a sweatshirt when
his headlights shine. At the front door I carefully turn the key. I won’t be jiggling
this fragile lock much longer.
Last year I flew back to Chicago for my sister’s wedding. When we stopped
at the grocery store the butcher joked with her, and walking out the door she
said, “My last week flirting as a single gal.” That became our line: last Chinese
take-out, last trip to the dry cleaner, last latte to go. Now as I step off the porch
I think: last time navigating these narrow steps in the middle of the night.
Then I turn and face Todd’s SUV: last time I’ll see him before I move, maybe
the last time I’ll see him, ever. Four years ago we promised to grow old together,
and two years later I changed my mind. It still feels a bit unreal. At our wedding
I stood under a veil of hope and imagined our possibilities: maybe we’d go
to Paris one day, maybe we’d travel the globe, maybe we’d live in the city, maybe
we’d settle down in a country home. I could picture us holding hands when we
were grey, wandering down tree-lined roads. But now that future is over.
Order the issue here Cimarron Review, Spring 2016.