The Contract

They didn’t speak to each other anymore. Used to talk all the time when they were younger. Held hands too. Then over a period of time it just got strange. They didn’t even acknowledge each other anymore. She would ask him how he wanted his eggs? For years the wife would do that. Not anymore. That died out with Sunday dinners. She’d make a roast every holy day. They stopped eating together. He’d take a TV dinner out to the living room and watch the afternoon movie. She just stayed in the kitchen. Drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. He’d complain about the smoke for years. The smell of the house. His clothes. He stopped. Didn’t see the point anymore.

The two were bound by a legal contract. That’s the way they saw it. Infidelities on his part over the years almost broke the deal. Anger stirred up inside of her. Until there was just silence. She didn’t even cry. She would just light up another and pour some courage in her coffee.

That was a long time ago. She used to follow him around town in her Chevy Cavalier. It was a four door. They bought a four door with hopes of children. The backseat would remain empty.

And he’d go all over the place. Bars, massage parlors, Chinese spas out by the highway. She’d drive by and see his car parked there in the lot. The old Dodge Charger. Orange. Had a Confederate flag on the roof. His favorite show was Dukes Of Hazzard. He’d speed around town in it. Took it out on country roads and let her rip. He was always looking for trouble. And it usually found him.

They were growing old. He had to sell the car. Needed the money. The old man blamed her for that. Blamed her for the miscarriage too. Said it was all her fault. Shouldn’t have smoked. That’s what killed that baby, was what he told her. You couldn’t go three months without lighting up, he said. You don’t even sneak em. You just smoke out in the open, he yelled. For all to see. A woman with a baby bump smoking a cigarette, he said. Didn’t say anything about coming home drunk and beating her. She used a lot of make-up.

This angry house was now quiet. No one yelled or cursed anymore. Was there ever any love? Maybe. But now it was just a contract.

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