It was 7:45 in the evening. Dinner sat on the kitchen table getting cooler and cooler as I leaned against the counter, looking out onto the balcony, watching as the skyline glowed bright red against the setting sun. Sade played in the background, euphorically preparing me for the inevitable conversation I was going to have to have with my wife.
The doorknob jiggled, then stopped. Then, I heard keys fumbling around outside by the door and knew it was Prue. God, even her keys sounded indifferent. Trying my best to hide my anger at the fact that she was almost two hours late for a surprise I planned for her, I poured us both a glass of Merlot and waited patiently for her to enter our penthouse. Soon, I heard the door open, and the telltale clicking of Prue’s heels on the checkered marble floor. I smiled at first, but after a while, I was wondering why her heels could be heard clicking in every room of the house, except the one I was sitting in patiently waiting on her. It’s not like couldn’t smell the damn lasagna and garlic bread; the aroma was wafting everywhere. Even the neighbors came up and inquired about the wonderful smells seeping down onto their own balconies. Becoming incensed, I walked from the counter and into the living room, where I could hear her fumbling around in the bathroom.
“Prue”, I yelled down the hallway.
“I’m in the bathroom”, She curtly replied. “I’ll be out in a minute.”
Uh oh. It was bad enough that she just comes in without even bothering to announce herself, but now she was in one of her funks that I was in no mood to entertain. At this point, I had had enough of her pissy attitude, and her constant need to suck the fun out of everything around her just because her day was a mess. Well if you hate your job so much, then leave it, I said in my head, recalling the many times I told her that when she came in the house pouting and complaining to me about her boss and co-workers.
“Prue, we need to talk now“, I emphasized, again yelling down the hall.
“Damn it,” she screamed, slamming what sounded like the medicine cabinet. “I said I would be out in a min- Oh, great. Just great, Walt!! The mirror just broke.”
The bathroom door flung open and out darted Prue. She walked right past me, her hair dangling in a bun, that she appeared to be halfway done releasing her locs from their confined state. Without even making eye contact, she goes straight for the broom closet and gathers a dustpan.
“What happened?” I asked.
With the nastiest scowl, she looked at me and went, “Gee, I was like ‘You know what would be new? If I use a dustpan to undo my bun.’ I guess you didn’t hear me when I said the mirror broke, huh?”
“Can you forget about the mirror and talk to me”, I earnestly requested, trying my best to avoid her barbs.
“We can talk after I pick up the glass”, She snapped. “The last I need is you cutting your foot on it and once again, blaming me for yet something else.”
“Yeah, it’s always ‘after’ with you, isn’t it?”, I snapped back, quickly losing my patience. “After you get back from you yoga class. After you finish working on your proposal for the boss you hate, but won’t shut the hell up talking about. After you finish ignoring me as usual so that you can go out again with your single girlfriends until 3 in the morning, and stagger in the house drunk, ready to fight, only to pass out and wake up the next morning acting like nothing happened!”
Prue kept her back to me, not saying a word. She continued cleaning up glass shards from the mirror that she had just broken. Deep down, I knew that this actually may have really been a bad time to talk to her, but after so many times of brushing it off and finally having the courage to address it, I was not about to back down now. And so it continued.
“Prue, can you even look at me?” I exclaimed to the back of her head. “Where have you been all of this time?
Letting out a disgusted sigh, she turns around and looks up at me, from her knees. “What are you talking about?”, She asked exasperatingly.
“You said that you would be home by 5. I specifically asked you when you’d be off on Friday, so that I could surprise you with a nice dinner and then a show. It’s 7 o’clock now, Prue, and you couldn’t be bothered to tell me you would be late?”
“First of all”, she started, getting up from the bathroom floor and facing me fully. “I didn’t even know that I would be late because Cathy rejected my project proposal at the last minute -“
“Ugh, here we go with the excuses”, I moaned.
“It’s not excuses”, Prue yelled. “Why don’t you stop interrupting me and let me explain myself… as if I even have to.”
“You heard me”, She said. “Why do I have to explain myself to you. It’s not like you even gave me any heads up that you were doing any of this. But of course you wouldn’t, because that would involve you actually having to listen to me and get my input. And lord knows you only give a damn about my input when it’s you telling me what my input should be!”
“Don’t you try to turn this around on me”, I shouted at her. “And besides, it was supposed to be a surprise. Hence, why I didn’t say anything about it.”
“Well, who the hell asked you to do anything?” She shouted back, stepping past me with her heels clicking on the floor with a ferocity. “All I wanted to do was uncurl, take my heels off – which I haven’t been able to do since I stepped into this freaking place – unwind with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio, and just relax. But no, as usual, you have to take your own feelings into consideration and just do whatever the hell you want, assuming that it’s what I want.”
She threw her heels to the ground, now looking down right demure as I towered over her as she sat on the bed. “I don’t take your feelings into consideration? Are you serious?”, I scoffed. “All I’ve done this entire marriage is put you on a freaking pedestal. I gave up a job I loved for a higher paying one – for you. I stopped hanging around my best friend Corey – for you. I changed everything about myself to resemble some pencil-pushing, Wall Street geek with no soul – for you. I cooked that damn dinner in there for you, and all you can do – all you ever do – is complain about what I’m not doing!”
“Oh, a dinner”, Prue said mockingly. “A dinner? You think making lasagna and garlic bread is just going to magically solve our problems? Oh, yeah, I know it’s lasagna… you know why? Becase it’s always lasagna! When you ruined my credit over your numerous stupid get rich quick schemes – you made lasagna. My mother died and you didn’t even take time off of work to go to her funeral. You just let me go alone and then left for work without even seeing me off. But on the plus side, when I got back home – SURPRISE – you made lasagna. Every single time something happens, you don’t address it, you don’t confront it… you just make freaking lasagna. Well, I’m tired of your stupid games, I am tired of this constant bickering, and I am damn tired of your lasagna!! I’m tired of you, Walt. I’m tired of you.”
The tears began streaming down her cheek. I hated to see my wife cry, but what she had just said hurt me to the core. Everything I had done, I had done for her, but all she could see is her own pain. Her own problems. Her own pity party. Well, if she wanted a pity party, she was going to get one.
“I’m tired of you too, Prue”, I calmly replied. “I’m tired of having some nagging, shallow, superficial woman who would rather splash on a pretty coat of paint instead of dealing with the mess underneath. I am tired of having to deal with a woman who has more baggage than the Lost and Found department at a Greyhound bus station. I am tired of having to suffer for the mistakes of the sorry fool you were with before me. And I am tired of never being enough for you, never doing enough for you, never saying the right thing for you. I’m tired too, babe… I’m tired, too.”
I turned and walked away, back into the living room and over to the kitchen counter where I remembered I had poured those two glasses of wine. Gulping down both glasses, I dragged myself over to where the now cold lasagna and hard garlic bread were sitting. The smell was no longer intoxicating, but annoying. Nothing but a murky blue hue outside, now that the sun had set. The night lights were emerging, as the city’s nocturnal life began stirring. With nothing but my thoughts and a ball in my throat, I sat down at the table, ignoring the food and just staring out into the city from the kitchen table. I could see my own reflection through the glass door that led to my balcony, and soon I saw the face of Prue, walking up behind me, her arms crossed, and her face as defeated and as diminished as mine.
“What do you want to do?” She demanded. “We’ve done it all and it hasn’t gotten better. It only gets worse. I’m not happy anymore. I’ve been unhappy for far too long, and it’s draining me.”
Fighting back the overwhelming desired to cry, I agreed with her. “I’m not happy either”, I said in almost a whisper, unable to face her.
Prue turned and departed into the living room. At first I thought the moment was over and let out a heavy sigh. Then, I heard papers rumbling around and wondered what she was doing. She resurfaced, carrying a thin stack of papers and a pen. Walking over to me, she pushed the pan of lasagna and tray of bread away and plopped the papers in front of me and set the pen down in next to my arm.
“Walt, this has been a long time coming and we both know it. We tried our best and we can take solace in that. I love you, and I always will. But we are not good for each other, and it’s best we realize it now than for something awful to happen later on, and the decision be made for us.”
She kissed my forehead. It was a kiss so sincere, so surreal, and yet so cold that it sent a piercing sting from my head to my heart. The finality of it was so resounding. Something was dead in me – in both of us. As she walked away into the bedroom, it was made even more haunting by the disappearing act I witnessed through the glass door of the balcony that I was still facing. Her silhouette getting smaller and darker as she faded into the retired into the darkness of the hallway. There was no point of me looking down at the table; I knew they were divorce papers, and it was the inevitable. Maybe others would have fought for their marriage, fought for their love, and fought to beat the odds. But for me, and for Prue, it was too bitter a battle to fight. Our problems existed long before either of us knew one another. They were just amplified tenfold when we met. Nothing to do now but sit here in my silent penthouse and wonder how I fooled myself into thinking this would be some ordinary romantic escapade, instead of the predictable ending to a fairy tale that never should have had an ever after.