by Brittany McSorley
I wake at dawn. I am certain that rising with the sun will afford me a precious slice of solitude, a quiet moment in which to enjoy my coffee and prepare for the day. Hubris! Once my alarm has chirped its fatal song, he is up. Speaking. Asking how I slept. Offering to make the coffee himself. I am disgusted.
After stifling several primal screams that threaten to erupt from me at the sound of his voice, I leave for my morning run. Out on the road, I pass others like me. We exchange knowing nods. They, too, have other halves waiting for them at home. My footfalls are a death knell leading me back to the unending togetherness. During the last mile, I wonder if I’m part of the problem. I decide that’s insane.
I stretch after the run, but no matter how deeply I fold towards the floor, I can’t make myself forget that when my stretching is through and my shower complete, he will be there, as he always has been, as he always will be. There is no end in sight. On the wall of the second bedroom that I am using as an office and pacing area, I add to my scrawled tally, marking another nightmarish day. He hears me using pen on the wall and is like, “Babe, what is that noise? Please don’t draw on the wall in pen. I’d really like to get my security deposit back. Also, your phone has a calendar. You can just use that to count.” I say nothing. He’ll never understand.
At eleven, my mother calls. She asks how I am doing, but she also asks how he is doing, and sounds much more invested than when she asked about me. A bitter betrayal.
At noon, he offers to make me lunch. I demand to know what he’s playing at, even though ending the question with a preposition makes my skin crawl. He plays the fool, but I know better.
I finish lunch and wash my own plate, sighing loudly in the process. I am a delight to live with, and that is unfair to me.
We spend the afternoon in what he surely believes is companionable silence, but what I know to be an atmosphere of barely contained rage. Why is he being so quiet? If I found out he thinks he’s doing me a favor because I’m working, I will hurt an animal.
Once I’ve wrapped up my workday, he asks what I’d like to do for dinner, offering to make a dish I enjoy. I stare at him. He adds two more options: takeout from restaurants I like a great deal. Will his pandering ever cease?
I retire to the bedroom to read about unsolved murders. I stay there until it becomes appropriate to begin drinking wine. He checks on me periodically, often complimenting my personality or appearance in the process. I hate it.
We eat the dinner he prepared. It is delicious. My suffering continues unabated.