Chadwick tapped the steering wheel with his forefinger. He was in line at the car wash and was growing impatient. Actually, patience never was something he had ever experienced. No acquaintance of his would describe that as one of his virtues.
How much longer was this going to take?
He let out a long audible sigh and glanced at his Apple Watch. It had only been two minutes since the last time he had looked. He shook it out of instinct to make sure it was awake and accurate. It was.
He sighed again and changed the radio station. A station played Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and he stopped flipping. He turned it up.
The last time he had heard this song was at his company’s Christmas party. His wife had accompanied him but as usual, she migrated to a corner and sat there the whole night with a sour expression on her face. She was the ultimate definition of a killjoy.
In all fairness, she did ask if she could bypass the party. But there was no way he was going to show up to his company’s party stag. What would his boss say? He had to do some pretty heavy groveling just to get her to agree to come.
Even though she came, almost as soon as they had arrived he wished he would have just let her stay home. Dinner was pleasant enough. She could be charming when she wanted to be. A talent of hers was graciousness and she exhibited with his bosses. But after, when the dancing and entertainment began, she found a corner of the dance room and just sat and watched. The more unhappy she looked the more determined he became to have a good time. And he did.
His secretary, Mason, was there. She is young and always about enjoying life to the fullest. They had always had a connection between the two of them. Although he was married and would never cheat on his wife, he enjoyed the rapport they shared.
The night of the party, he was thankful Mason was there. Maybe if his wife saw them having a good time she would relax and join them.
That did not happen. In fact, the opposite was true. The more he smiled, the more her brow furrowed. The louder he laughed, the less expression she showed on her face.
The room was noisy since the company had hired a DJ for entertainment. Most people were dancing. Chadwick sat at a table and Mason returned from getting a drink at the bar.
“Look what I found,” Mason said with dancing eyes. She held up a post-it note.
Chadwick looked back at her. He had just looked over at his wife’s corner and could almost feel a chill. “What is that?”
“It is a note,” she paused for effect, “from Greg,” another dramatic pause “to his wife.”
He rolled his eyes. He never cared much for Greg because he seemed too soft. “Big deal, the man can write.” He leaned back in his chair and folded his arms.
“And now,” the DJ said loudly. “How about a little old school?” Lose Yourself started to play over the speakers.
“Listen, listen,” she said giggling.
Oh, he thought, she is so young. But so what? Her youthfulness was contagious.
“My dearest,” she deepened her voice to mock imitate Greg. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” she snickered.
“That’s actually Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It’s a poem. I learned it in school.” He said matter-of-factly.
She smiled. “Oh, look at you scholar.”
He blushed. “It’s actually pretty famous.”
“Well, the rest of this is not a poem. He actually lists why he loves her.” She looked over the note. “Like, you do my laundry and you gave me some good looking kids.”
He shrugged. This seemed like a pretty intimate note they were looking at. “Maybe we should just give the note back to Greg.”
She nodded. “Or, we could make copies of it and place them on all the tables in here.”
What a childish idea!
“C’mon,” she held her hand out. “Let’s go make some copies.”
He stared at her outstretched hand. Somewhere deep in his mind he knew he should decline. But then he glanced at his wife in the corner. She was watching them intently. No expression on her face whatsoever. He did not want to be a party-pooper like her. He sighed and stood up. “Fine, but no one should know it was us.”
“Obvi,” Mason said and smiled that he had succumbed.
They disappeared down the hall and made several copies. When they returned they snuck the copies on the tables without anyone noticing what they were doing. He didn’t look at his wife once until they sat back down laughing. When he did finally look in his wife’s direction he was surprised she was no longer sitting there. In fact, he didn’t see her again until he got home because she had left.
When he did arrive at home much later, she was already in bed. He tried to rouse her to see if she wanted to do anything but she didn’t budge. She never wanted to do anything these days. “Kill-joy,” he whispered and went into the bathroom to get ready for bed.
The following Monday at work, there was a memo that went out from management. While they didn’t know who had placed the copies of the note all over the tables, they were not pleased. This kind of action was not condoned in the company. After all, the business was a family. And family should respect each other.
At first, he was nervous that somebody had seen them and would rat them out. But after making it through the whole day without anyone approaching him about it he felt he was safe. More than that, he felt alive. He had done a rebellious act and not been caught. It had been years since he had done any sort of rule breaking. Best Christmas party ever.
The song ended on the radio and snapped him out of his reverie. Hopefully, he wouldn’t have to wait much longer. He had a 3:30 tee-time to make. Thursday afternoon golf was the absolute best time to go. It was a lull between the morning retirees and the evening workers. It was imperative to his sanity that he make his golf round. He always justified his Thursday tee-time as work related. Sometimes there would be clients at the course he tried to woo. Mostly though, he did it for himself.
Finally, an employee of the car wash walked toward his car and waved him forward. He followed the prompts to line his car up and put it in neutral.
Just as the pre-rinse started to wet the car his wife broke her silence.
“I want a divorce,” she said without looking at him. For the first time since they were in the car together he looked at her.
“What?” he asked.