Don’t think, just do. High five the company’s number one sales person even though you haven’t sold anything in over a month. Give him that confident, killer smile you used to use on clients. Feel it fade as you walk towards the lift, wondering which of your stuff to sell next. Because that’s all it is: stuff, though you secretly cherish it. After all, it makes you you. You decide it’s your second car’s turn to get the boot (the boot? It barely had one anyway, it being a Jaguar F-type). Your wife will complain derisively (“how are we going to travel to Prairie House? By train?”), but at the end of the day she’ll realise a) it’s your decision, and b) it’ll be her money to spend, no doubt on a new pair of shoes or a dress (£60,000 can only stretch so far).
The street is yours as you walk down it; the crowd parts for you. You notice this, though you do not make any indication that you notice. And it is just as well they part for you for just then, a baseball bat comes flying through the air, spinning from God knows where, and you have no chance to stop it. You who have controlled everything – even your birth, in which you arrived three months’ late, refusing to budge from your mother’s warm womb. You are the only casualty, and you are an unlucky one at that: the bat hits you full on, not just one of its ends, and you find yourself on the pavement without quite recalling how you got there. You can hear a feral scream coming from somewhere close by and you realise just before you pass out that it is you and that something has changed deep inside you.
Next thing you know, you’re coming to and you can still hear screams, as though no time has passed and you’re still lying on the pavement, gum sticking to your tailored jacket. Except it’s Marcy, your wife – ever the theatrical – head bowed and sobbing away, not even realising you are awake. You shush her and she starts. You look closely at her as she raises her head and you realise she isn’t crying at all. You see she just looks shocked you’re awake. Before she can open her mouth, you speak – the first words you’ve said to her (besides “yes”, “no”, “honey” and “I’m busy”) in years. You say “I want a divorce,” or at least you try to say it but your throat is raspy and instead you just croak. So Marcy, oblivious, flutters around you, bringing you a glass of water with a straw in it, making little sympathetic noises. You take a drink and you can feel the water sooth your throat, giving you strength.
“I want a divorce” you say again and this time she hears you and her concerned eyes narrow. She throws the glass of water in your face. The straw hits your eyelid, which scars you far more than the bat did. Without a word, she leaves you – walks outside, leaving the water to drip down your neck and into your shirt. And in the weeks to come, you will find out she told everyone she left you, not that you left her. But you don’t mind, because at least you are free – Jaguar F-type and all.
The married couple was inspired by The Bonfire and the Vanities, which I read a few months back.