The Last Time We Ate Sushi

by Laura Weiss

Meet at the cheapish sushi joint. Glance at your wife biting into a tuna roll. The wife who once slept with you. The wife who made you Sunday morning pancakes, who every night came back to you by six.

Flinch when she grabs her briefcase and says, “I need to work late. Got a ton to do. You know how it is.”

“I don’t,” you say.

“Make sure you take out the garbage.” She shoots out the door, her look reducing you to the size of a paper clip. Order fresh-cooked salmon and bring it home to the grateful dog.

The next day, under CVS-fluorescence, scan a pawed-through rack of Valentines. See the pink hearts, the lace hearts, the broken hearts, arrows piercing bloated middles. Select twin birds wrapped in vines of purple posies with “We are joined together” inscribed in black cursive. You can say this and not be a liar.

Later, your wife texts, I’m-sorry-to-have-to-skip-V-Day-but-I’ll-make-it-up-to-you-and-don’t-forget-to-pay-the-furnace-guy.

Think of her melting brown eyes focused on everything but you. At your medical supply company, which you inherited from your father, dial 1-800- Divorce4U, but when a female voice answers and asks how she can help, end the call. Stare at the crutches, the bandages, the commodes. Think how your wife never asks about your work, how when you reach for her, she squirms free.

Back at the house, share Popeyes with the dog. Taste loneliness, a rancid flavor you recall from the boxed mac and cheese your mother left you the nights she was out dating. Tell yourself alone time is precious time, an air bubble in the marriage cave that houses your couplehood. Text your brother for the phone number of his killer divorce lawyer.

In the morning, your wife promises she’ll be home by six for make-up Valentine’s Day sushi. Set the table with the nice plates and the rumpled Valentine’s card, and when she arrives (almost on time) kiss her hard on the lips. Except she breaks free to hug the dog.

Her phone pings. “Sorry,” she says. “It’s my partner.”

Call out, “Wait,” as she runs into a room off the kitchen.

Hear her laugh, that bray of a laugh, a laugh you never liked, not even in your courtship days. In your head, Partner-Man and your wife romp around the room festooned with hearts. Listen to their cries of ecstasy. Call out your wife’s name and hear silence.

Give the locked door a smack, then stomp into the kitchen. Your dog burps. Eke out a smile. Polish off the tuna rolls and scoop up the desiccated salmon container before tossing it into the garbage. Leash the dog. Outside, in dark, the moon silvers the chain link fence encircling the yard. The gate rattles as you pass through.