When I look at my husband sitting across from me at the dining room table, calmly slicing his potatoes with the same solemn expression he might have while calculating the amortization of a loan, I am seized with the sudden desire to make grave but preposterous announcements.
By the way honey, I found out today I have cancer. Would you please pass the salt?
Or, upon my collapsing to the floor, Dear, don't let me spoil your dinner, but I believe I'm having a heart attack.
Something tells me that even news of some medical calamity would not break his composure, that he would view it instead as the kind of situation necessitating a cool head so the proper insurance companies can be notified, the proper forms can be filed.
We have become one of those couples that spend their days moving around within the institution of marriage like the planets orbiting the sun. There is an unseen and unfelt gravitational force that keeps us locked together in our own elliptical paths, but we remain far enough away from each other so we won't collide. The space across our long, well-polished dining room table is becoming wider and wider.
Despite what my dreams insist on telling me, my husband is a good man.
Turner Maddox is a good man.
A pillar of the community.
That's what everyone says. Good is what he is, going about his life quietly and with the kind of single-mindedness touted by business consultants and motivational speakers. He reads paperbacks that inevitably have exclamation points in their titles. 1001 Ways to Motivate Your Team! or Plan, Proceed & Win! and so on, ad nauseam, and reads them seriously. This is where he picked up the idea for that electronic scheduler. Some book told him he needed one, top of the line for the on-the-go executive and all that, so he ran off to the nearest electronic gizmos store to get himself that very model, though buying it may be one of the only on-the-go activities he's enjoyed in years. I have fantasies of stuffing that scheduler down the garbage disposal, all the dates of his future grinding away in bytes down the drain.
Copyright 2001 Jeanne Braselton; all rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Ballantine Publishing Group.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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