They sit across the table from each other in almost total silence, pondering the meal before them. They have endured this ritual, perhaps a thousand times now, each engaged in their private thoughts, none of which, anymore, include much of the other. Thoughts of escape long ago turned to thoughts of divorce which then turned to acceptance of just enduring the misery.
Even the misery has long since gone, replaced with a dull ache that, these days, even itself isn’t much noticed. Existence plods along. Time passes. More time passes still.
The children, that old stalwart of an excuse to stay together, have long since flown the nest. They flew the moment the opportunity presented, seeking sunshine rather than the cavernous silence of their home. Now the couple have little excuse but entropy.
Outside of the home, to the world outside, they are successful. Their children do well. Their home is notable. Their livelihoods provide well. They are respected. Inside of the home, they are empty. It is empty. Even music finds neither audience nor comfort here.
She grinds the morsel of steak between her teeth. A bit of gristle doesn’t cooperate as she tries to render it into pulp. She rests her fork in her plate.
“You know,” she begins, “I could see us doing this, living like this for 20 more years.”
“I don’t have 20 more years in me,” he says.
“Neither do I,” she returns, missing his meaning. “We shouldn’t have 20 more years in us. We shouldn’t have one.”
He, believing that this surprising conversation concerns their lifespan, starts for a moment, wondering if this is a threat of bodily harm. For the first time in a long time, his blood moves in her presence. He doesn’t know what to do with it.
“I’m done. It’s over,” she announces. She rises from her chair and carries her plate to the kitchen.
He remains, nonchalantly contemplating his safety, but truly more interested in the half eaten dinner his wife just carried away.
The door to the kitchen cracks open just far enough for her to lean through. “Tomorrow I’m hiring an attorney. I’m filing for divorce.”
The door closes behind her.
He remains, wondering if she is throwing the food away, or if it is still available.