In Disguise

fiction, Life


She was in the bedroom and so quiet that he assumed she was reading or just resting. He walked in quietly to find that she was neither reading nor resting.  She was hard at work; packing. She was taking her time, making sure that each item was folded just right as she filled the big suitcase. He thought to himself how odd that she was packing the big suitcase; the one used only for long trips. “What ya doin’?” he asked. She responded in a matter-of-fact voice so unlike her as she continued to pack, “I’m outta here.” It’s more how she said it that got his attention.

Though her voice was controlled, it was full of what he detected as triumph. You can tell about such things when you’ve been married for a decade and some change. “When are you coming back?” he asked in a voice that was more like a plea than a question. “I mean, where you are going?” he continued.

As he struggled to keep control of himself, she stopped packing long enough to give him a long, silent stare; a stare full of her infamous evil eye that she always threw at him when she was angry. He used to joke that her evil eye could burn holes in the walls.

He knew.There was no need for her to say more. He understood too well. So many little things that he had tried for months not to notice now made too much sense.

He tried to think of something to say, but he knew that she was not going to listen. This was a done deal. There is no force on earth stronger or more determined than a woman who has made up her mind. A man who decides to leave will often change his mind. It usually doesn’t take much to persuade him to try again. But when a woman is going, she’s going, and seldom does she even look back. When a woman is gone, my friend, she’s gone. As an old country song puts it, “Cryin’ won’t bring her back.”

Knowing that words would mean nothing now, he does what most men do at times like this. He does something stupid. He was not thinking now; he was just acting out feelings. He was just doing something.

He reached over and began taking her clothes out of the suitcase and throwing them on the bed; thus, destroying her neat folding job. This did not help.

She stepped back and with a combination evil eye and burst of tears, she spoke with a fury and tremble in her voice like he had never heard from her. “You bastard,” she said. “I’ll call the cops on your ass. That’s what I’ll do. Get away from me. Get out of here.”

He walked out of the room weak and crumbled like the clothes he had thrown around; A beaten and shocked shell of who he was. As she walked out the front door without speaking, he watched her drive off, and looked at the yard between the house and street.

He thought about all the work he had done on that front yard.  It had been a good year for the Virginia dogwoods; one to the right and one to the left of the well kept lawn. They were so pretty with the glowing white petals to the left looking like a springtime version of snow. And her favorite to the right, with its delicate pale, pink petals proudly displayed. The special grass that he ordered, the kind that needs little watering, looked so good and green. It had all been such an important project to him. And what mattered now? Nothing.

He recalled when they first met, and how he thought that she was beautiful. Not a beauty queen kind of beautiful. But golden blond hair, deep, blue eyes and a great smile. Yes, there was beauty there, he recalled. It is sad and strange how those features he found so appealing seem now nothing more than a disguise for ugliness.

Now, as he struggled to find something positive to think of it all, he found himself saying aloud, “Try not to marry an ugly woman.”