learn when to leave the table

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Our dinners together always had a sort of tv dinner feel. Perfectly contained portions of mashed potatoes, corn, mystery protein, and silence. A silence that never left us once the microwave was put to rest.

This silence wasn’t tender or quiet. It seemed to envelop with its sharp and loud vibrancy that radiated in the dull ache that made up the right side of my chest, screaming the word leave over and over again.

How could I leave him after all this time though? What was the point anyway — he was dependent on me, and I was dependent on being a good Christian…

Though it was never stated, I think the silence at our meals, at the intersections between the possibility of the present moment and the memory of his long-standing affair with his high school sweetheart, were mandatory.

My body would often engage in a gentle humming and swaying that my dear long-time table would join in with soft, scraping sounds that were always on beat. He stared down at his plate the entire time, which was fine with me. It saved me from having to see that same look he always seemed to have on his face in my presence — one of incredible emptiness and remorse.

It hurt deep in my soul how he could just turn it off and on, rushing silence out of the house, on the days our daughters or friends would come over to visit, sharing all the jokes he had heard on a recent sitcom, and looking at me with an intense look of love on his face.

I imagine that one day when I die young from a broken heart and go to heaven, he’ll write to our daughters shortly after I’m gone about his new girlfriend. He’ll say keep an open mind. Your mother, Celeste, and me were all best friends in high school.  The pain without your mother was just too much for me. She was my best friend, my love, for forty years. Celeste helps me to feel like I can go on. I know your mother is smiling down on us in heaven.

& since this is all made up anyway, I like to think that I am smiling down on them with a happiness that could never be too much for me, and that my dear table continues to make soft, scraping sounds on beat with their fuckery.

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