She didn’t like sex much anymore. It felt like so much work after a long day staring into a computer screen, entering data, then the rush in traffic full of speeding animatrons, yammering into their cell phones and cutting it close every 1/4 mile. The constant mix of soul-crushing boredom and anxiety made her numb.
She landed at home at the exact same time the kids piled in from art club and track practice and hanging out behind the library smoking, if she had her information right about her eldest. They came in hungry, and tired, and needing things she didn’t have. Things like sympathy and patience. Her husband followed closely behind and after he opened the mail, flipped through whatever catalog or magazine had arrived, he cracked a beer and headed for the couch and the remote control.
Dinner, once her proud favorite meal of the day, had long-ago become a chore and she’d given up on blessing her family with a rainbow of colors, a balance of salty and sweet and sour. She’d become the unhappy queen of the crock-pot and had lost weight because she spent so much energy pushing her unsavory, tasteless food around on her plate instead of eating it. They mostly ate in front of the television now, staring blankly into the seventy-two inch screen, laughing when prompted. She remembered none of it.
Climbing into bed each night the only thing she wanted was to escape into a novel and feel the long fingers of sleep wrap around her brain while she was in the grips of someone else’s story. But guilt was the backbeat to every day. She thought about her disinterest in sex often and told herself to just do it, that once she got going she’d enjoy it. But every night she sighed and pulled the pillow onto her stomach to prop the book up and dove in.
Her husband curled up on his side facing her most nights, watching her for a few minutes before he sank into his deep, snoring state. He seldom asked any more, and never reached across to touch her. Why would he put himself through that same old ritual of advance and rebuff? She wondered when he would fall for somebody else. She figured she would know when he stopped looking at her like that.
Some afternoons she ate lunch at her desk and looked up information about midlife crises and menopause on the web. She matched up with a lot of the symptoms for depression, too, but she didn’t think she wanted to numb herself even more with pharmaceuticals. The idea of bringing another person into her mind to figure it out by going to a doctor or a therapist felt like way too much work.
One day she remembered an afternoon when she and her husband were still dating. After spending the day building a rock wall in his garden, they ran downtown to The Venice for a greasy, thin crust pizza and a few beers. They secured a scuffed pool table and pumped quarters into the jukebox. Loverboy, Journey, Elton John, Rod Stewart. They danced around the table and flirted over the table, her beer buzz making her feel light and untethered. That night they did it a dozen times. Somewhere along the line she forgot how to play.
This post is a contribution to the 52 Stories flickr group.
thanks for reading