What I Learned the Other Day

By Daniel Boyko:


It started the other day. Or really, it started many other days ago. But I just found out about it the other day. I’ve had my suspicions for a while, checking his phone and search engine when possible, but the other day I knew for sure. How? Well, my husband told me as much.

***

“We’re getting a divorce.” His voice was flat, nonchalant, as if he was telling me to go to the market to pick up milk. I just stared at him, the gears in my head not yet trudging along, the lights still off.

“I want a divorce,” he said, as if that would clarify. My eyes drew back. My lower lip lowered just a smidge. But still, I didn’t say anything.

“I think we should get a divorce.” His voice was still flat, even calm, but for some reason, the third divorce lit a fire under the pants of whoever’s in charge upstairs in my mind. Maybe a Managing Director or an Executive Producer. I don’t know. All I know is that the lights flickered on and the gears started pounding. In about thirty seconds, everything snapped back into place, like a slinky condensing.

“You want what?” I asked, voice rising.

“I would like a divorce.” His eyes blinked a few times as he gazed at me, waiting for me to take the keys and Volkswagen and grab some milk.

“I don’t understand.”

“I think we should get a divorce,” he repeated. Silence followed, except for the sound of saliva being tossed around in my mouth as my patient tongue waited for the precise moment to strike. “It’s not you. It’s me.”

That was the zinger. He loaded a cannon, lit a match, and fired. The iron ball struck me in the chest and gut. Ouch. “We’ve been married for twenty-six years and this is the shit you give me?” My face blossomed into a bug-bite red, really red hue. But not as red as his face was about to be when I strangled him with ten sweaty fingers if he didn’t provide an adequate response.

Silence. “You give me some junior-prom, cop-out response of why you want to end the marriage we’ve shared for almost three decades? And then not give a response?”

Silence. I glared at him, burning holes in his lower ribs, too large forehead, and some more sensitive regions, too. I even fried his puffy eyebrows for good measure. “Look.” He paused. “It’s the truth. It’s not you. It’s me.”

If words don’t leave that ignorant tongue in the next three, no, two seconds (I’m done being generous), he’s going to have a set of black nails crawling at his throat. One. His mouth opened. One-point-five. He better start speaking. Two—

“I should explain.” You think? “I’m in love with Scarlett Johansson.” What? “It’s just that Scarlett and I are meant for each other. Her quirks match my quirks, y’know? It was just meant to be.” Ouch. My heart sank. His eyes blossomed when he spoke of her. Scarlett? Scarlett? Scarlett? He uttered the name as if he had gone on eight dates with her and already gotten to third base.

“Have you even met her?”

“No, but I just know it was meant to be. Her strengths balance my strengths and she understands me in a way you never could.” A freshly washed knife shoved into my ribs, twisting. I wasn’t sure (and still am not) if this was because of Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit, or Avengers: Endgame (for God’s sake, she’s nothing like the Black Widow in the comics—a real B-list hero at best). I’m not sure it really matters. I sat there. Frozen. The Executive Producer upstairs was just as still.

But it gets worse. He followed, as if the blade in my ribs wasn’t enough. “I’m serious about this. I already have the paperwork.” He grabbed a mountain of paper. If he brought a cannon before, he was now gathering the armada.

“I’m really in love with her. I really am, Emma.” I glanced at the very real papers now dropped onto the kitchen table. The realization that my husband was willing to end our life together for a woman he had never met before washed over me. My heart anchored to the sea floor. Ouch.

Did I mention our anniversary is Saturday? Yep. Yikes. My husband, always the charmer. A real Prince Charming.