“What ever happened to our happily ever after, huh? Huh, Robbie?” Marcia stood in the doorway to her trailer home living room, in her once white robe, her hair up in pink curlers. Her legs were getting prickly with newly growing hairs; she hadn’t bothered shaving up to her knees. It’s not like there was much in the way of intimacy in the bedroom any more. She took a long drag from the cigarette that was hanging from her lip and exhaled slowly, her eyes fixed on the back of Robbie’s recliner.
“Aw, don’t bother me, woman. Bring me a cold beer, would ya? You know I’ve been working at the factory all day. I’m beat, alright? Just beat…”
Marcia stood there a moment longer, her shadow thrown in front of her, looming over her fat husband. She turned around and was in the kitchen. She didn’t even have the luxury of having to walk more than a few steps to get from the living room to the kitchen; there wasn’t even a dining room. The symphony of Robbie’s burps nearly made her gag as she opened the can of beer, took a swig, swished into around her mouth and spit it back in. Putting out the cigarette in glass ashtray, she smiled; satisfied with knowing her husband would be drinking spit tainted beer.
“Here y’are…darlin’”, she handed him the beer as he scratched his protruding belly with his pudgy right hand. She could see that he was wearing his gold wedding band as he did every day, it made a noise as it came in contact with the tin can. At times she thought that she should just stop wearing her wedding rings. Her fingers weren’t as slender and it was quite an ordeal to get them off each night, but she did it anyway. If only because Robbie still did.
What had she been thinking when she’d said she’d marry him? Well, she supposed she’d been looking for any excuse to move from her parent’s home and escape her stupid family. He’d seemed like a dream, she had worried that if she closed her eyes he would poof and she’d be left alone, so when he asked for marriage, she snatched the opportunity. They had both been so young when they’d met. He was the best student on the debate team and was known to be able to woo the pants off any girl. Marcia, she was quiet and blushed at the slightest provocation.
He had spoken to her first by asking her to tutor him in math. “Hey, my friends say you’re the best student in Pre-Calculus. I’m good with words, you know, but numbers? Ain’t my thing. I was kinda hoping that you could tutor me, after school and stuff. Whatdaya think?” He’d run his hand through his sandy brown hair and like a fool she’d gaped at him and to recover she’d stuttered sh-sh-sh-sure. She could remember the heat of the blush in her smooth cheeks.
Robbie was watching a re-run of “Jeopardy”, one she’d seen before. She went to her room to finish getting ready for ladies night out, the only night she truly looked forward to these days. She was looking forward to with people that she knew truly cared about her. Weekends were a thing to be tolerated now, with Robbie fixated on the TV.
She looked at herself in the floor to ceiling mirror by the bedroom door. She had been hesitant to admit it to herself but she was no longer the thin girl she had once been. Taking off the robe, lifting up her shirt and turning to the side, she inspected her body and sucked in her soft tummy until she needed to take a breath and let her tummy relax into its full shape. She lowered her shirt again and pushed out her stomach as much as she could, placing one hand on top of it and one hand cradling the bottom. As if the mysterious creation of life was coming together inside. But it had never happened and it left her breathless to think about it.
“Stop being silly, silly” Marcia told her herself.
She’d swore this was the year to lose weight. Damn it all if taking up smoking didn’t work. Katrina told her they’d helped her lose thirty pounds without doing much in the way of exercise. The men one met while smoking in the darkness of night was also a perk, according to Katrina.
Marcia opened a drawer of her vanity and took out her Va-Va-Vroom Red lipstick and expertly applied it. She smacked her lips together, puckered and blew a kiss at herself in the vanity mirror. She closed one eye in a flirty wink and smiled.
“I hope you aren’t out too late, woman” blurted Robbie as he passed behind her on the way to their bathroom.
“Damn it, Robbie! You scared the bejesus outta me!”
“Yeah, yeah…”He’d left the bathroom door ajar and Marcia could hear the tinkling of his urine splashing into the toilet water.
“Gah, nasty son of a –“
“You making dinner or what?” Robbie looked at her through the reflection in the mirror. He could still see the woman he loved in that reflection but the glass barrier between him and her was getting more and more indestructible. It was his fault they lost the house, his fault they didn’t have kids, his fault that she was unhappy. She’d reminded him of it with just the look on her face when she looked him in the eyes.
Marcia turned around and looked at Robbie from head to foot and thought about the man she’d loved and the man that stood before her. She turned back to look in the mirror to put on her earrings.
“Remember when you used to take me out to dinner, huh? Bring me flowers? Take me out dancing?” She looked down at her wedding ring. “Told me you loved me, Robbie”, she whispered.
“Quit your whining and make me a sandwich, alright?” He placed a hand gently on her left shoulder and trailed his hand along her back to her other shoulder as he walked out of the room. Marcia closed eyes, the unexpected touch giving her goose bumps. She clenched her teeth and held back the tears of frustration and disappointment.
She’d make a sandwich to please the fat bastard but she genuinely hoped he’d choke on it. She took the curlers out of her hair and shook her head a bit to loosed the curls. “I’ll go make his fat ass a sandwich”, she mumbled at herself. She looked in the mirror a moment longer and forced a smile to brighten her face. If she could whip herself into shape, she’d be able to attract a good man, a real man who’d know who to treat a lady.
In the kitchen, Marcia took out two slices of nearly stale white bread and cut the crusts. Robbie hated the crusts and she hated that he hated the crust but she’d given up on trying to change that and many other things long ago. She spread a fairly thick layer of mayonnaise and relished in the thought that it was going to cause a heart attack someday. Death by mayonnaise. She laughed silently at the thought and found that she couldn’t stop. She covered her mouth but the laughter kept coming. It sucked the breath out of her, she had to sit down and the tears started, laughter turned to soft sobs and she wished Robbie could hear her but she dared not make more noise. He wouldn’t understand that she couldn’t understand what had happened and why she still stayed.
With the snot running down her nose, she sniffled and got up to finish making the sandwich. She blew her nose on a paper towel, the roughness of it irritating her nose.
“What’s going on in there?”
“Hold your horses, will ya? I’m not some… some servant girl, waiting on your hand and foot!” She yelled back. “Or however the saying goes”.
Robbie didn’t mean for his comment to make it sound like he wanted Marcia to speed it up. Honestly, he wasn’t even that hungry and if he were he could certainly make himself something to eat. He simply wanted to need his wife, or make her think that he did.
Marcia put two slices of salami, one slice of American cheese, a leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato, finished with a squiggly line of mustard before putting the other crustless slice of bread on top. She took a knife out from the drawer, cutting the sandwich at a diagonal, just like his momma used to do. She quickly pushed that woman out of her mind, not even wanting to get started on that topic. It would surely ruin her mood for the night.
“Robbie, come and get your sandwich.”
“Robbie? Robbie, can’t you hear I’m calling you?”
Marcia stood at the doorway to their small trailer home living room and she saw that Robbie’s hand dangled off the side of the recliner.
Nothing. Marcia wasn’t sure what to do, she had to get dressed. An odd sense of anticipation coursed through her as she moved slowly towards her husbands’ dangling hand. She stood in between Robbie and the TV. His eyes were closed and his mouth was open, his chin resting on his chest.
“Robbie?” She whispered. She remembered walking down the aisle and anticipating their wedding night and all her fears floated away when she saw his smiling face, waiting for her. They had fallen asleep that night, their bodies close together, her head on his chest and his arm pressing her to him. The room and the world beyond was still dark when she’d woken up, comfortably warm. His breathing was soft and his exhalations tickled her forehead. The look of peaceful sleep on his face had stayed with her; deep inside her memory and it came bubbling to the surface, looking at her husband now, unresponsive.
She leaned closer and touched his leg with her hand. Still nothing. She grabbed his knee and shook it gently.
“Wha… what’s happening” He sat up and looked around before looking at Marcia. Marcia’s hand flew to her chest, for a moment she thought she’d just become a widow. She stepped away from him.
“Oh, it’s nothing. It’s just… I was calling you to come get your sandwich. You had fallen asleep.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess so”, he yawned and smiled up at her with his eyes squinted.
“Well, it’s on the kitchen counter.”
“I’m going to go finish getting ready then I’m gonna go. You don’t need to wait up for me, I’ll take my keys.” Marcia turned to leave and Robbie grabbed her hand, it felt warm and clammy.
“Have fun”, he said.
“I will”, Marcia said.
The café was only ten minutes from their trailer home. It was usually empty by this time, except for her and Katrina and Maxine. Katrina was celebrating her five month anniversary with Guy tonight and Maxine had to stay home to take care her sick little boy.
“The usual?” asked Emma, the same waitress that seemed to always be working. Yes, replied Marcia. Emma asked about the girls and Marcia told her.
“Well, that’s a shame”, said Emma.
Marcia was glad to be alone in the booth in the corner. Emma placed a hot cup of Chai tea and a slice of apple pie in front of her. From her purse, she took out the white album and opened it to the first page with her favorite engagement picture. Marcia and Robbie were sitting on a rustic wooden fence, his arm around her waist and her arm around his. They were not facing the camera, but looking out at the green landscape in front of them; as if they had no idea their picture was being taken. Marcia had worried about falling off the fence.
“If you fall, I’ll fall too”, Robbie had said.
Marcia took a sip of the Chai and looked out the window, to the empty street. She wanted to badly to tell Robbie that she was falling and she felt like she was falling alone.
“If you fall, I’ll fall too”.
“My prince,” Marcia had said and she had looked forward to her unknown future, pregnant with joy and expectation for her life with her love, Robbie.