Coordinating Couple

Jess and Kate McNally,
both living the Dream they did not share.

Every day, he’d wake up to ham on toast
wrapped in a napkin in the microwave
with a note that said,
“Have a good day.  Love you, K.”

Though she never forgot him in the morning,
she thought little of him in the afternoon,
so busy being productive—
“not merely busy”—
as she liked to say.

Ryan and Paige would be on their way to school,
in her shiny, candy-apple red Mini Coop,
and he would enjoy a few hours of solitude,
watching infotainment and luxuriating in a cup of “Average Joe”,
as Kate called it.
(Fourbucks was her thing.)
Then he’d be on his way to work his split,
so he would be there for the kids when they got home.

The evenings would come,
and they would cross paths;
she would be coming home to
help the children with their homework,
while he was going to work overtime—
a means without an end.

The kids needed them,
but Jess and Kate had their own lives—
lives that scarcely intersected.

Sometimes he would open up her strawberry shampoo,
just to remember what she smelled like,
for she was always asleep when he got home—
a stack of open books in a tower on the nightstand,
an empty glass,
hinting of Chardonnay,
beside it.

She would be laying on her stomach,
her chestnut hair covering most of her face,
and with one finger, he would draw back that silken curtain,
as if to peek at the sunshine behind it,
but the windows to her soul were shuttered
with lashes like fans.

He would gaze at her in the soft lamplight,
trying to remember the exact amber of her eyes,
and would often find himself going to her profile picture,
just to remember.

Late in the night, he would find himself scrolling down her wall,
learning about the promotion she had forgotten to tell him about,
or the latest memory of their children he was not there to share.

He would think about taking time off,
but they were building up their future, Kate would say,
by paying for their pasts.

He couldn’t remember when they began to have their own lives,
no longer sharing, no longer building something great together,
like that Lowe’s commercial,
but just fitting into each other’s schedules,
becoming strangers.

And it was when Elise Carpenter came to work alongside him,
so like it once was with Kate,
that he left early to find that which seemed lost and unfamiliar.

When he saw her at work,
in her element of gray suits and high heels,
made-up like a corporate wife,
he realized he didn’t know her anymore,
until she saw him and smiled.

The man beside her didn’t look happy,
but she went to him, giving him a hug, and said,
eyes shining wide open,
“Have I ever told you how much I’ve missed you?”

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