The day was plain. The dull blues of the sky were devoid of clouds, wind, and any hint of impending thunderstorms. In truth, the earth felt plain.
In June it was always just right, some may say, though this day, it was just plain. The radio wasn’t playing but just a soft tone, the sound of Beethoven’s Symphony 7 dwindling to a faint whisper. The wheel felt pleasant beneath my grip. Gripping tightly, I rubbed the palms of my hands against the leather until it calloused the sweat and skin underneath. But I smiled in a small way.
Faint as the wind that didn’t blow, the windows were cracked a bit. There was a presence that lingered, the presence of ambient music wanting to escape from the stereo. The wind gushed into my cockpit due only to the speed, pleading to break in from the minuscule cracks of the windows. The need to laugh gregariously begged from my small, barely perceptible smile that grew sloth-like across my lips. Yet the presence only remained a stressful tight tank of leaking oxygen, as though we had been placed in a capsule somewhere in the far stretches of our solar system, and we did not have enough air for the journey home. We knew that one of us would not survive, or perhaps neither of us would. Perhaps it was always this way. And it always has been. Or had I not seen it before. Perhaps I didn’t comprehend the seriousness of the matter, as if caught in the eye of blinding colors or distracted by the tantalizing taste of new flesh.
One of us would eventually state a barely audible word. One of us would break the silence. One of us might appear content. Though the ride remained plain. My smile, though faints, still-remained. To this day I wonder why it was there in the first place. Perhaps because it was easier and had always been to force a small smile across my lips. After all, she was beautiful.
“Clear out today isn’t it?” I queried with my grip tightening on the steering wheel, enjoying the feel of my wedding ring into my finger. She had not progressed in farther in her book. I noticed that she’d been on the same page for at least 10 minutes. Yet her eyes darted from left to right, seeming to read, and I continued driving, staring straight ahead with my stupid, faint smirk.
“Yes, well a bit of a breeze would do.”
“Would you like the…”
“No, I’m fine.” She did not look up. She stayed buried in the page, that same one. I only smiled, still. She turned off the radio. “Beethoven’s a headache to me.”
“Funny, it’s supposed to help one concentrate. Studies have been done you know.”
“Well studies are fallible. Don’t mean to tell me that you believe the accuracy of these studies?”
“Some may be inaccurate…true. Must admit though, the relaxation element of the classicals.” I reached over and placed my hand, finally upon her crossed knee. “Remember our first date was at the symphony?” She moved her knee until my hand fell against the empty space between us.
“Weren’t they free tickets you got from somewhere?” She quickly turned the page of her book now. She placed her index finger upon the words, now tracing the paper as if to attempt to absorb the words by osmosis, or to make pretend more real. “Or from someone, rather.”
“Season tickets.” I corrected her, placing my lonesome hand upon the steering wheel. I turned the radio back on. The volume rose to meet the crescendo of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the famous Presto Agitato illuminating the air and masterfully dancing to the wind as I rolled the windows fully down. I could hear her voice rising to meet the piano. She was saying something, but my smile grew and melted with the sound of the genius movement emanating from the car speakers.
“MUST YOU BE SO INSENSITIVE!” The radio was off again. She had thrust the book onto the floor; it sounded like a volcano unleashing within the atmosphere, or perhaps it was simply her rage.
“That was Symphony 7, my favorite.” I smiled coolly. I turned the radio back on. She reached up to touch it again. “Sit the fuck down.” And that finally stopped her. I cleared my throat. She began to huff loudly, wanting me to hear her angry, making sure that I knew that she was angry now.
“This is what it’s been, this treatment.” She hit her fist against the dashboard. Dramatically. “No one talks to me that way.”
“Well I just did honey and now would you like to get something to eat before our destination, darling? McDonald’s or perhaps Jack in the Box, 2 miles?” I echoed the road sign that whizzed past.
“Bastard! I refuse to be treated this way…I don’t eat there and I won’t now! You can just…”
“Then we won’t, the faster we get there, the better.” My smile remained icy cold. It was the small smile of utter peace that emanates during the dawn of an epiphany. She was in silent, in utter disbelief. Either that or she becoming overly dramatic again and in search of conjured tears. Droplets formed at the corners of her eyes and began cascading down her high, flawless cheekbones. From those blue eyes contrasted with expertly applied makeup, light, neutral tones…a natural beauty she was.
Her hair stuck to her cheeks now, against her lipstick as she tried to flip her hair back and away. She gazed out the window, shuddering from a coldness that brewed not from the dry heat outside but the dryness of our feelings for each other, the staleness that had become or maybe had always been. We were almost there; the drive had taken us far from home. It was worth it, though, lovely and pleasant and plain.
I was greeted with a firm understanding, and a rather sad professional smile from our lawyer. She was hesitating in the car. I smiled wide as I shook my lawyer’s hand. She was still in the car. I opened her side.
“Well darling, shall we?” I remained a gentleman, even today, especially today. Today I’d be free. I might rekindle the essence of what it means to really beam again. Up until today, it had been a long time since I showed such emotion, but today was different. I would come to understand the ability to live again, touch Beethoven again, hold onto my truth. I would know all the colors of the rainbow. I would understand the lovely simplicities from life in sobriety.
Life as a single man.
Personal Note: I wrote this back in 2006. It began as a writing prompt in a creative writing class when I never experienced a divorce. Though now, I look back having gone through a divorce and can painfully see the accuracy in this. There are red flags we often don’t wish to see and anyone who has dealt with a break-up or a divorce can understand, it’s never easy. Even if there is silence that consumes the two of you, almost stifling the air around you. Even if it appears to be “amicable” it’s still a death of a relationship, it’s still a death of a chapter in our life, now transitioning onto our next phase. But, we learn and we grow and that’s what matters most. ❤