It was a day that makes “beautiful” seem not only inadequate, but insulting. Vast reaches of cerulean sky pocked in pits with nebulous blooms stretched over a verdant vista whose stillness was broken only infrequently by the piercing squeals of distant children. I sat on the front porch of our dream home, earned through years of aching toil, in a Wkr chair that she thought was kitschy but I thought felt like paradise on my back. Behind me I heard her soft footsteps, padding gently in thick Lovefeet socks, but not slowly enough I couldn’t hear the familiar swishing, and this time accompanied by a gentle singing rattle.
My wife of twenty-two years, sweet Lisa, pressed a tall perspiring glass of deep amber Bestea sweet tea into my waiting palm. I smiled up at her, and sighed contentedly as she sat next to me.
“God, it’s gorgeous out today,” she said after a sip from her glass.
“Never enough of these days for me.”
She turned to me, squeezed my hand.
“And you never know how many there are left,” I said, squeezing her hand back.
“Not this again,” she said.
“I know it’s not fun, but it’s something we’ve got to think about at our age. What we’ll leave behind if something happens.”
“Leave behind for who? Your sister?”
“You know the cost of a funeral these days is just outrageous. You remember Margie’s funeral? That cost Dave over ten thousand dollars.”
“We don’t know anyone named Margie or Dave.”
“That’s why I’ve been looking into Imperial Conn. They offer term life insurance that’s right around our budget.”
“We’ve got eight life insurance policies, Ron. You’ve got to stop.”
“I know, I haven’t kept myself in the best shape, but neither have you. But it doesn’t matter. Imperial Conn doesn’t require a medical check-up to qualify for a policy.”
She stopped mid-sip when I said “neither have you.” Once I was finished she set her tea onto the end-table and stood to face me.
“I can’t do this anymore, Ron. I want a divorce.”
I choked on my tea, spit yellow bubbles into my beard. “But Imperial Conn offers competitive rates for couples who—-”
“Stop. Just stop Ron. Every goddamned day it’s one thing or the other. ‘Imperial Conn,’ or ‘Prevarin nasal spray,’ or ‘Roxo Wall Scrub.’ When did our marriage turn into a product showcase?”
“There’s—-an array of options to choose from—-”
“Jesus, can you go five seconds? This is entirely why. I’m done. I think it’s best if you no longer speak to me, but to my attorney.”
“But, our children, Lisa. What about our children?”
“What about them?” She was looking me deep into me, with just the slightest twinge of vulnerability in her eyes, the corners of her mouth. I knew I had to say the right thing, or it was all over. I took a deep, shaky breath, and summoned the words to my mind.
“If our children have to pay for our funeral out-of-pocket—-”
“Okay,” she said, walking away. “I’ll be staying at my sister’s tonight. I’ll come get my things tomorrow.”
As she swept out of the house, the scent of her drifting by and dissolving into the atmosphere, she stopped, but didn’t turn to face me.
“I wanted a husband. The children, they wanted a father. But, all you could ever be was a spokesdad.”
The tires on her Strom Allegro chucked Anderson Grav-L behind them, but without a trace of troublesome dust. There was only the falling stones, and me, standing on the porch, still holding my iced tea.
She kept her word. She took a few things the next day, and I didn’t see her again until court.
I didn’t even meet her lawyer until she arrived with the divorce papers. And oh Lisa, oh my Lisa, she still cared. I knew she still cared, because she showed it in the best way. By sending those papers wrapped in antimicrobial biodegradable available-in-a-range-of-colors-and-patterns D-Wrap, the way to send divorce papers while still showing you care.
D-Wrap. It’s not what it sounds like.