Love in Reverse
In the end, it was an exhalation of breath, a cooling of his body. A marble headstone said father and husband. Before that, it was high blood pressure from yelling at the neighbor’s dog. Or cursing at the driver who cut him off in traffic. Or screaming at the television when his football team lost.
The wife was in the other room doing laundry, washing dishes, or cooking. They didn’t talk much. Some called them old fashioned, because they’d been in an unhappy marriage for a long time. That’s how they did it back then, whether your misery overwhelmed you and the wife cried into the green beans and had one too many glasses of wine with dinner so she could sleep, or not.
Before the house was empty, there were two children. A boy and a girl. The boy wanted to be a singer and went off to study music. The father told him he was no good and lazy and should study computers. The mother didn’t say anything, but pressed a hundred dollar bill into the boy’s hand when the father wasn’t looking. The girl loved her father and did what she thought he wanted. She studied to be a teacher, and married a boy just like him.
In the beginning, the father and the mother weren’t parents. They laughed at everything together, even themselves. She swooned over his green eyes and muscular physique. He was on the football team and other girls liked him, but he liked her. They fooled around one night and she got pregnant with the boy who would be a musician. Before they kissed for the first time, he said he loved her more than his own life, and she knew he was the one.