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Thirty-Seventh Anniversary

Short story.

by Everett Wilson
June 10, 2009

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Thirty-Seventh Anniversary

He had been up for an hour, she for forty-five minutes. Neither of them had left the house or spoken.
The silence was not hostile on his part. As far he could tell, it wasn't on hers either. It didn't seem to portend anything, yet it was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. It was Nothing.
He reviewed the evening before. They had watched television. He had kissed her good night and went to bed before she did, but he was still awake when she joined him. He had taken the whole hour since rising to shower, shave, dress, and sit on the toilet—the last without a book or magazine.
He had heard her moving about most of that time. He could smell the coffee. Usually he could hear the back ground noise of television, but not this time. Though he did not want to, he went to the kitchen, poured coffee, and sat down at the kitchen table because those were the next three items on their unwritten list. As he sat down, she went to the vacated bathroom.
He did not care for the silence, but it bothered him more that he didn't care about the silence.
It looked as though he was on his own for breakfast. He knew they had bread and cheese that were worth eating, and fresh fruit beside. He provided for himself and picked up the morning paper that was lying on the table unopened. He ate and drank methodically as he scanned the paper. He thought he heard the shower running, but his hearing was no longer keen.
When it was time to walk to the bus stop he went to the closed door of the bathroom and spoke his first words of the morning. "I'm leaving for work now."
She answered with one word in her usual voice. "Okay."
Whatever was going on would have to wait until evening. She was an elementary schoolteacher and he was a counseling psychologist, so during work hours everything else was on hold.
She was normally home before she was, and this was a normal day. As he approached the house from the bus stop he allowed his mind to anticipate what he was going to face, but gave it up because there was no thread to follow. He was sure that the beginning of the silence had been her choice. She would end it when she was ready.
As usual, dinner was awaiting his arrival. It was a good meal, as always; he could not remember when it wasn't.
They had nothing to talk about, though. Their work was interesting enough to do, but not very interesting to talk about even to the degree they were allowed to talk about it. They had no hobbies in common, unless television could be called a hobby.
It was at least a good tv night. After a couple of hours he went to their bedroom, and twenty minutes later she joined him.
On those occasions when he was still awake she would kiss him and then face away from him for uninterrupted sleep. After the kiss this time she continued to face him. She did not touch him, however, so romance was not on her mind. When he turned off his reading light she asked, "Do you know what today is?".
"No. What?"
"It doesn't matter," she said, and turned her face to the wall.

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Real Things
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Real Things first appeared in serialized form on the Partial Observer in 2001. It is now available in print for the first time.

Over thirty years after a senseless crash redefined his life, Greg Thompson and his family finally learn why.

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