"Is that broken glass on the dining room floor?"
"Dropped a glass. An accident." I mumble my response from behind my hands.
"Are you hurt?" He takes a few steps, shoes crunching on glass, and he's beside me.
"I think I'm fine, but can you call the people next door?" I drop my hands from my face and point out the window.
"Yes, their child is about to die."
I watch David push his thick dark hair off his forehead, a nervous habit he's acquired in the past year. "What? Stop talking like that. It's creepy."
I sort of scare him these days. I'm not sure why exactly. Perhaps it is my seemingly unshakable grief? Is he afraid it will envelop him, too?
He steps closer and looks out the window. I do, too. The child has disappeared, hopefully safe in his nanny's arms. Or he's died from the fall. My mind jumps to terrible conclusions these days, but unfortunately, my mind is often correct. Feminine intuition, you really can't beat it. Mine is superbly tuned.
"There's no one there, Jane."
"I can see that. He was there just a minute ago." I hate it when he doesn't believe me and it's been happening more and more these days. I don't like it. That's one of the reasons I stopped taking the pills. I mean, your husband should love you and worship the ground you walk on. He doesn't just now, I know, but he will again. I'm back. He'll see. I take a deep breath. I need to make my husband treasure me again. I will provide him with that opportunity starting tonight. He has been avoiding me. Like I carry a disease. I'm not contagious. Of course, there are other things holding his interest these days. He thinks I don't know about that. Silly man. I force a smile to my lips, blink my eyes.
"Are you hurt?" Now he attempts kindness. What's the old saying: a day late and a dollar short?
"Don't think so." I shrug as he takes my hand. As we touch I wish it was electric like in the long-ago days, but it's not. Of course, all relationships change over time, and we've been married for more than two decades. Back in the early days, that first year together, he would have scooped me into his arms and carried me to a chair. Now that we're a longtime married couple, he escorts me old-lady style to the kitchen and pulls out a bar stool. I slide onto the cold, hard wooden seat.
David checks my feet for glass while I stare at the top of his head. He's blessed with thick dark brown hair, without a streak of gray. Mary had the same glorious mane of hair. In fact, Mary looks a lot like David, despite the fact she was adopted. Isn't that funny? Two daughters, one who looks just like my husband, the other, Betsy, our biological daughter, who looks like a watered-down version of me. Perfect, isn't it?
"You're not cut. I'll sweep up the glass. Why don't you go put socks on? Your feet are freezing."
I slide off the bar stool. "Thanks for coming to my rescue, handsome." I bat my eyes at him and slowly lick my bottom lip. I should win a domestic Golden Globe. Oh, come on. You know as well as I do that men love to be flattered. David's no exception. Tell a man he's handsome, smart, strong or, the doozy, the best you've ever had in bed, and, well, they'll love you at least in that moment. I just need to win him back, make him love me again. And I know I can do it. He loved me once, and deep down, he still does. For now, I'll just kill him with kindness. It's the Southern belle in me. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
See. David flashes a smile, a crack in the armor, pats my shoulder. I used to have him so well trained. Husbands. You let up just a little and they regress. And then he's back to business. "Are you sure you're all right? You're not overdoing it, are you?"
"I love this, this entertaining, you know that." I never did, actually, and I'm not fine. I'm angry, but I smile. I glance at David, my eyes taking in his cool demeanor, his practiced professional air. We speak in a stilted language now, tiptoeing around each other like we're both surrounded by broken glass. This year has been hard on our marriage in so many different ways. I'm committed to fixing things, to getting us back on track. I know this happens in every relationship. We're just in a down cycle. I'm sure you've been there, too. I'm afraid we're running out of time. Betsy will graduate soon. She needs to see us, her parents, in love. All kids want is happy parents. While she's at community college going to class, she should imagine us here, at home, waiting to share dinner together each evening, a model of marital bliss.