The key jiggles in the lock when he gets home from work.
In her mind Elsa knows how the scene should play out. The dutiful wife runs to the door to greet her man, possibly surrounded by the kids and a dog. But the kids never came and the dog recently died. So… instead she continues to sit at her desk in the study and shouts a hello from behind closed doors.
It is Eric’s behaviour more than his actual presence that irritates her as of late. The emotional turmoil she has been experiencing for the last six months has depleted her. She is tired of the guilt for feeling as she does, the pity as they silently eat their meals, the anger at his obliviousness to the devastation surrounding him and the resentment for being ‘the bad guy’ while he remained smugly (or so it seemed to her) pristine and honorable.
“Let the games begin,” she thinks to herself as she waits for him to pop his head into her study.
This is the time of day for extreme courteousness; forced interest about the day’s events and intricate to and fros about what they should have for dinner.
Once that is over, Roger heads to the bedroom to change into his gym clothes and makes his way downstairs for his daily workout session; being the disciplined and consummate perfectionist that he is. Funny how the very characteristics that had drawn her to him a lifetime ago had now become a major source of irritation.
Elsa inhabits a parallel universe; a world that has her floating on the periphery of what had been, till a year ago, their life together as husband and wife. Realizing that someone she thought she knew through and through had morphed into a not particularly likable stranger has her in a tailspin.
Granted, they had gotten a little bit older, a little more critical, a little less patient, a bit more afraid, and in her case, a lot more disappointed day after day. Maybe it was this subtle insidious daily process that had propelled her to where she found herself now. That and not addressing any of the issues; brushing them off as the usual expected side effects of a long married life that you resignedly accepted as part of the deal.
What would a day worthy of mentioning need to consist of nowadays? “Why can’t I find worthiness in our now?” she thinks as she does the cleaning up after dinner.
Every day, she resists against the tug of a memory, a scent or an expression from him. If in that precise moment she were to let herself go, she probably could start reclaiming their life together again. But a stubborn dark force has been hard at work deep within her. She fervently denies hope, running instead towards sure destruction with open arms.
Later, as they head to bed with another big fat lie of a day under their belts, she feels an anxiety attack coming on and locks herself in the bathroom. Seeing their toothbrushes touching in the cup on the sink makes her burst into tears. She turns on the water to muffle the sound of her sobs.
This limbo land of uncertainty between what was and what is offers her nothing tangible to grab on to. Or maybe, she just hasn’t yet mustered the courage to face what needs to be faced and do what needs to be done.
Half an hour later, Elsa dries her face, turns off the water and lights and heads to bed. Roger’s form is neatly laid out and his breathing is regular and efficient even at rest.
This is the scariest time of day for her. It is the time when she stares at the lying form next to her and can’t make a connection, not really recognizing him at all. Maybe it is her hardcore resistance that has caused this numbing effect of the senses.
She pulls the sheets up to her chin and turns her back to him. Even slight politically correct contact is no longer a consideration.
Turning out the light by her bedside, she lies in the dark for the next two hours between shakes and sweats, wishing she knew where they had gone, why she had gone first, why she couldn’t understand if he had gone too but was just better at hiding it. She doesn’t know anything anymore but by 4:00 am she acknowledges knowing one thing – she knows she is done.