Ophelia was frantically packing all the things
that she could justify as being hers.
Which was basically everything.
After 15 years of marriage,
Max was left with the toaster
and 4 plates.
In her haste she threw away
on unopened bottle of dipping oil.
What you might have on fresh bread.
Max took it out of the trash,
why let it go to waste?
She saw he had saved it
and threw it back in the garbage.
Rather it wind up in landfill
than with him.
“Parking validation is for three hours.
Personal validation is also available upon request.”
It was a joke, obviously, the receptionist had made before.
Max took the parking ticket.
He was thinking of a similar joke, but not for him.
There was a more attractive
he was hoping for.
Fortunately, her shift had ended.
It was over, but how to extricate himself?
He held on tooth and nail because he loved her.
But also, because he was afraid.
She was his bridge from fringe dweller,
sleeping on the floor,
living in a house, sleeping on a California king,
driving a car he wasn’t ashamed of.
It was the summer of the lonely cicada.
Silly insect miscalculated and came out too soon.
Instead of the deafening chorus with all his brothers,
it was him alone.
Singing for a female who was sound asleep.
Max felt the exact same way,
born in the wrong epoch.
Longing for times of Tommy gun simplicity.
Somehow, somewhere, Max got the idea that things should be easy.
And when they weren’t; God, Mercury in retrograde
and the universe were plotting against him.
After being the victim of years of these plots,
he, one day, had a realization.
Maybe, he was wrong and everything was difficult.
That was liberating, but required work.
Monica came from Munich with the baby.
And she was already pissed off.
Complained about the sheets and the pillow cases.
Max hired a cleaning lady to clean the whole house and washed the bedding two times.
She insisted, “It still smells like man head!”
Cologne was out of the question, her head would’ve exploded.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Gone to weddings, everyone.
When will they ever learn?
Max opened her letter slowly, dreading what it might say.
It was only one page.
There were the usual turns of love and longing,
but the handwriting was sloppy and distracted.
He knew and actually was rather relieved.
Rose from volunteer to manager.
Gratified he had arrived.
Had vision and plans.
One evening the boss showed up unexpected.
Handed him a brown paper bag.
Peeked inside to see 4 wads of 100 dollar bills.
“I need you to run that through the register”, he said firmly.
“And take a little something for yourself.”
“I live the life I love and I love the life I live”, he said defiantly.
Still had to chop his own wood and carry his own water, though.
Just the way it is.
Max heard the blue jays shriek.
Sighed and felt more gratitude than remorse.
Highway bound and no one to answer to.
Blue light falling.
Ophelia hadn’t slept for months and the days all folded together like soft dough.
She spent her evenings bathed in blue flowers, playing digital roulette.
She’d gambled on him and lost everything.
Max smiled at her from across the table.
She then saw she’d also won someone who would never leave her.