That Leftover Taste in Your Mouth
“Well, I’m leaving you now.”
The comment was so unabashedly inserted into the atmosphere that I spat out my coffee.
I brushed spilt java off the front of my shirt. It wasn’t a complete waste; the coffee was leftover from the evening before. It was bitter and burned.
I turned to my wife. “You what?”
She stood by the kitchen door, two suitcases at her feet and a frown on her face.
“I’m leaving you, Jack,” she repeated. She exhaled annoyance and brushed brown hair from her face. “It’s over.”
I stood up so quickly, I knocked over the chair. “What? What are you talking about?”
She rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “You ever get it when you’re constantly fighting with yourself? Like, you are watching a movie of your life and desperately screaming at the screen, hoping a situation changes, but it won’t because it’s a movie?”
I stared blankly. Toast crumbs stuck to the corners of my mouth.
She shifted her weight. “Well, I’m doing something about this movie. I’m changing the direction.”
“But, I don’t understand! What brought this on?”
“Brought it on? Nothing brought it on. It’s not as if I suddenly got sick. This has been brewing below the surface for a while, Jack.”
I desperately looked around the kitchen, as if I hoped the appliances would come to my aid.
“Well, why haven’t you mentioned anything before?”
She sighed. “It wouldn’t have mattered.”
“It would have mattered to me!” I exclaimed.
She leaned over to pick up the suitcases. “I knew you’d make a scene,” she mumbled.
“Me? But why are you leaving? At least tell me why! Let’s talk about this,” I spluttered, flailing my arms.
“There’s nothing to talk about. I just don’t think the magic is there anymore.”
“You want magic? I’ll become a magician!”
“Jack,” she said sternly, “there’s nothing to be done. I’ve made up my mind.”
“Goodbye, Jack.” She turned on her heel and left.
The screen door slammed back into place. Her car roared to life and then faded.
I stared at the spot she was in and then to the plant on the windowsill. I couldn’t tell what it was any longer; its leaves had long since browned and shriveled. Linda had given up on it. I had continued to water it even though it seemed fruitless. Now, a small green bud poked through the dirt.
I gazed into the backyard. The taste of burnt coffee lingered on my tongue.