by The Jason Jack
(Originally appeared in mini-zine, Brev Spread, as The Never-Rememories of Mrs. McMorton)
“Damn you, Roy!” Connie McMorton bellowed, clenching the folds of her nightgown between her wrinkled, spotted fingers. “Damn you for everything you put me through!”
She shuffled back and fell on her bed, keeping her eyes locked onto her husband’s grinning face. Roy sat in a chair at the foot of the mattress, masked by darkness.
“Sorry to wake you,” he said, his words hollow. “I kept the lights off when I came in. Like I always do.”
“You’re not welcome here anymore.”
“This is my home, too.”
“I want you out of my bedroom, out of my house. Now!”
Roy gave a quiet chuckle, crossing his arms while he looked over the cubed room and its lack of furnishings.
“I wasn’t gone long and you already cleaned house?”
“You’ve been gone ten years. I couldn’t stand staring at anything that belonged to you after the first day.”
“And we’ve been married for thirty. You’re happier with just a bed and a lamp than me?”
“The bed and the lamp have treated me better than you ever had.”
The grin across Roy’s face grew larger.
“Then, you know.”
Connie averted her eyes from her husband, clenching at her heart out of reflex. Her heart suffered a shooting pain she wanted to pull out.
“You’ve hurt me like this before. Don’t do it again . . .”
“You know about the others.” Roy’s wicked expression did not change.
“Please, Roy,” Connie said, her voice no louder than a whisper, “don’t.”
“You. Know.” Roy chuckled, filling Connie’s ears with his grinding chuckle.
Connie’s mouth quivered. Tears followed the age lines of her face down her cheeks and off of her chin. She tried clenching the mattress sheets at her sides, but the strength to do so escaped her.
“How couldn’t I? I tried so hard pretending the perfume on your jacket was mine. That, I must have misplaced the bottle somewhere, or the lipstick on your collar was a color I’d forgotten I purchased. But . . . I knew.”
“You always were perceptive.”
“Thirty years, Roy. Thirty years together, a house, two healthy boys, but how many times did I have to look past the fact you were being unfaithful to me? Too many late nights like this, you sneaking in here thinking I was sleeping when I really wasn’t.”
Connie looked at Roy. Contempt laced the man’s trademark smirk.
“I could smell the other women on you. Why did you do this to me? Why would you want to throw it all away?”
“Honey, it was your fault. You threw it all away.”
“I strayed because of you.”
“No, no, no. I was the best wife a woman could be. I had dinner ready every night by the time you came home, had the boys fed and showered by seven, and always had time for . . . us.”
“And still, it was your fault.”
Connie slowly climbed out of bed then stood.
“I did everything for you—”
“But, you didn’t.”
“I did.” Connie shuffled towards her husband, anger rejuvenating her frail body. “You’re lying, Roy.”
“Then how come you pushed me into the bed of other women?”
“Damn you to hell, Roy!”
Connie shoved her husband’s chest. In the tussle, the lamp behind Roy fell from the table and shattered on the floor. Connie gasped before taking a step back.
“See what you made me do.”
The bedroom door opened, showering the room in a wave of soft white light. Connie turned around and looked at the short woman standing in the doorway. She wore blue smocks, a smile on her face, and held two clear plastic cups in her hands.
“My neighbor, Julie,” Connie said, shifting her eyes to the floor. “I didn’t mean to make you come all the way over here.”
“What happened, Mrs. McMorton? Are you okay?”
“Yes, yes, yes, dear. My husband and I were having an argument and the lamp fell, that’s all.”
“Is your husband still here?”
Connie turned around. The lamp lay on the floor, broken into a million tiny shards, but the chair her husband had sat in was empty.
“Hiding like the child you are, Roy . . .”
“What was that, Mrs. McMorton?”
“My husband’s hiding somewhere. I don’t want to stay here.” Connie faced Julie. “I can’t sleep in my room tonight, do you understand? Not while he’s still here.”
“We’ll set up a nice bed just for you in the common area, okay?”
Connie looked over her shoulder then nodded.
“But first, I want you to take this. It’s medicine that’ll calm you down.”
Connie took the first plastic cup and put the pills in her mouth then drank the water from the second to help wash down the pills.
“Mrs. McMorton, I think the best thing to do right now is to get your mind off of your husband. I’ll get someone to clean up this mess, okay?”
“Good. I’m going to take you to Arts and Crafts now. I know how much you love painting so that’s what we’re doing today.”
“I love painting. Roy hated painting. He thought it took time away from him.”
Connie’s eyes glazed over for just a moment.
With a smile spreading across her face, the old woman looked at Julie.
“Let’s get you away from your husband and off to painting, alright.”
Julie led Connie out of the room.
“My husband? Don’t be ridiculous—I’m not married, but I just met a really swell man. Handsome, tall, and we have everything in common. I think he might be the one.”
Julie closed the bedroom door and led Connie down a long hall of the hospice.
“What’s his name?”
“His name’s Roy. Now, let me tell you all the wonderful things about him . . .”