Just Like Leaving
Waiting for the bus, I pull some of my wife’s hair from my sleeve. This is the fifth time it’s been in my hands in the first hour of the day. When I wake, it’s on my pillow and drool-glued to my cheek. After I shave, my palm helps her long strands down the sink along with my calico stubble. The shower head clumps her into a ball around the drain of the tub; I flush the ball before diligently using my Q-tips. I kissed her goodbye before I left for work, her well-rested hair wrapped around my ear, and grabbed my beard before she said her sleepy goodbye I love you.
We don’t like where we live and both want out. She’s going to try for a job back home. When it happens, we’ll be ten months apart. It makes good sense; get a footing where we want to live so we can get on with our life. The job she gets will be full-time, full pay, the first career finally after so much school and part time. We’ve been poor together so long; it’s hard to imagine not trying for the better pay no matter the cost. This is the lie we agree upon, the one we’ve bought into. We can do ten months, we’ll be so busy, call every day, it’ll be just like when we were dating, and think of how good it will be when it’s over.
We’ll forget the missed bless yous when one of us sneezes, won’t laugh about the nonsense she says in her sleep, and the three time zones between her side of the bed and mine will just be one of us sleeping on the couch for the night.
It won’t be so bad we say. It’ll be just like leaving each other every day for work, except I won’t walk out with her hair clinging to me. And that wouldn’t be too much to miss, if it wasn’t for every other single thing.
Joe Slocum earned his MFA from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers in 2013. In 2011 he won the Patrick F. McManus prize from Eastern Washington University. He teaches and writes in Houghton, MI. You can follow him on Twitter @this_is_flannel.
Photo by Monik Markus