“Your spouse wants to move out of your new apartment, saying that there is a large space you both can move into. When you go to visit the new digs, you find it’s an abandoned warehouse at an old train yard. Clearly you can’t live there. Only your spouse just spent your life savings to buy it. What do you say?”
-Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: Your New Home
I started with little things.
I made coffee too strong, then too weak, and dubbed it perfect both times. I wore flannel and jeans and then blew a paycheck on designer shoes. I left the cat box for a week, then cleaned it twice a day. I went on a paleo diet then switched to vegan. I’d want missionary in the dark one week… alternatives the next. I ran hot and cold, in temperature and temperament.
My husband adapted. He huffed something about hormones and pregnancy tests a few times, but then fell silent, somewhere between amused tolerance and vapid complacence.
I upped the ante. I clung to him, even showed up at his work randomly. Then I pushed him away, spending whole nights out of the house. He questioned if I was faithful. I was pushing his limits, on purpose, but that was the one I couldn’t bear. I backed off for a while.
Then opportunity fell into my lap. I was sure this one would work. I bought a goddamned warehouse with all our goddamned savings, and I presented it proudly, telling him that “well, we’ll have to save up again so we can fight to get the zoning changed from industrial to residential, but we can stay with relatives until then.”
He broke down crying; I was so sure I’d won. But he didn’t scream “the woman I married wouldn’t do this shit!” He just left, and I got a call from the divorce lawyer hours later.
And that was it. I lost.
I couldn’t leave the warehouse. I sat there for hours. A bum wandered in; I knew him well.
I’d bought him a charity coffee. He’d sung some bullshit song about losing his situation due to false accusations and how, despite proof of innocence, his superiors wouldn’t risk it. He’d lost everything because of a rumor.
He’d told me that it doesn’t matter one shit if you know you’re better than that, because if someone can believe it about you, you need to re-evaluate your life decisions.
Then he ate a beetle off the sidewalk like it was a lady finger. I watched in that sort of not-looking-away-from-a-train-accident way.
“Nobody sticks by anybody anymore” he’d said. Like the newlywed idiot I was, I’d argued the point. “Yeah, I bet” he’d said. And, an idiot, I accepted. I didn’t think anything could possibly come of such a ridiculous wager until he’d smiled.
“Should’ve opened with this; might’ve worked” he says now, sitting next to me. He smells of piss. “One-hundred chances… one-hundred failures” he scolds, reminding me as though I could forget the deal.
“See if he thinks you’re off your rocker, or if it’s you. But none of that possessed-pea-soup-and-acrobatics-bullshit: just you being not-quite-you” he’d said.
“You don’t have to gloat.”
“Sorry, it’s in my nature.”
“But this wasn’t in mine!” I cry. “I hoped he knew me better… or that he would stick by me.”
“Leopard changed her spots. This was icing on the cake, not a sudden 180.” There’s no amusement or mockery; he’s been through this too much to care anymore.
“Look, you’ve won. Just take your prize.”
He shrugs, uncaring. Then there’s a fiery slip and slide, and I fall all the way down.
Instead of him returning there, I fall. That was the deal.