My husband left me on Thursday. “You’ve changed, Amelia,” the bastard had said. “I don’t want to have to hurt you, so I’m just going to get out of here before things get too ugly.”
He was standing beside my dresser, looking at my legs instead of at my eyes, screwing and unscrewing the cap on a bottle of lotion. He had a habit of busying his hands when he was feeling guilty. “Idle hands are the devil’s playground,” my mother-in-law always said. She was churchy.
I wasn’t sure what part of “my husband of eight years is leaving me for absolutely no reason” was supposed not to hurt. Then again, I was sure what part of my husband of eight years was an idiot: all.
I’d fallen sick on Wednesday afternoon before and had spent the intervening 30-some hours in our bed, falling in and out of consciousness. I thought I was going to die; in fact, on Wednesday night I had him call our lawyer so I could go over my will. My husband seemed concerned at the time, and it crossed my mind, now that I was awake again and seemed to be on the road to recovery, that he had simply been faking affection so I wouldn’t write him out of my will. He was a money-grubbing asshole! And fat.
I’d been lying in bed, like I said, for about 30 hours at that point. I’d woken up maybe two minutes before he announced his departure. He didn’t seem happy when I woke up, just kind of disappointed. When he told me he was leaving, I sat up in bed, and I must have looked pretty mad or sat up too suddenly, because he almost dropped the bottle of lotion and balled up his fists, like he’d turned a corner and run into a snarling Doberman.
“I’m not sure where I’m going to go,” he said. He was moving towards the door with, I thought, inordinate caution. I was more incredulous than angry at this point — I hadn’t really had time yet to ponder what a raging, inconsiderate moron he was — and his behavior seemed ridiculous. He kept his back to the wall, side stepping, staring at my legs the whole time. The coward couldn’t even look me in the eye.
“Paul is going up to his cabin and I’m thinking of going with him.” So he did know where he was going to go, right, and he’d said he didn’t to give the impression that he’d schemed this up even more hastily than he actually had? What kind of man leaves his devoted and sexually attractive wife as soon as she wakes up from being sick? An asshole, that’s what kind. Then he had the nerve to add, “Don’t follow me.”
I know my mouth fell open, and I don’t think I’ve shut it since. I mean, what kind of man first tells his groggy, ailing wife that he’s leaving her, then tells her where he’s going, then has the nerve to tell her not to follow him? The kind of man I married, apparently.
He backed out the door, with his stupid eyes trained on my legs, still not looking at my face. He looked scared, like I might suddenly spring out of bed and tackle him and stop him from leaving, but I was still too surprised to think to move. I heard him take his hunting rifle off the rack in the hall, then sounds like he was moving around furniture, looking for his cooler, I guessed. I heard him raid the fridge and pantry — really nice, right, leaving a sick woman with nothing to eat but navy beans? — and the front door open, close, lock. The window in our bedroom was open and I could hear Paul’s truck idle on the curb, Paul’s voice saying, “Jesus, Bill, are you alright? You look like hell,” and Bill’s saying, “Just get me away from here.”
Paul now was also an asshole, for being complicit in Bill’s idiot scheme to abandon his wife. I sat in bed for a minute, wondering what would possess a man to tell his wife not to follow him up to his prick friend’s cabin. Then I wondered what I could possibly have done in the 30-some hours I’d been asleep and feverish that would make him want to leave. Had I become so physically disgusting to him in that time that he’d been compelled to have an affair? Men, everyone knows, are horrible and vulgar and only interested in sex, so that was a probable explanation. He hadn’t looked me in the eye at all, which almost definitely meant that he was screwing someone else. She was probably 19 with a wide mouth. She probably served beer at the golf course .
I felt better, and I was pissed off, so I decided to follow Bill and Paul and their drink cart sluts up to the cabin after all. Bill and I had been about as in love as two people who have been married for eight years ever are, so I guessed that he expected me to want to follow him to beg him to come back. I wanted to follow him to beat him to within inches of his life. And I figured I’d slash Paul’s tires while I was at it.
My joints were stiff from lying in bed for so long, and you know when you have a fever how achy it makes you. My legs felt heavy, like they were still asleep, and I had to practically limp over to the dresser. My arms were sore, too, and my elbows were so stiff that I could only bend them a few degrees, but I was so mad at Bill and so gung-ho about showing him what was what, I decided that if he wasn’t going to be considerate enough to tell me why he was leaving, then I didn’t have to be considerate enough to change out of my nightgown or comb my hair. I’d been sick. People are understanding.
I tried to go into the hall, and the bastard had blocked our doorway with a bureau! Of all the childish things a grown man can do, barricading his wife in their bedroom with a large piece of furniture has to be pretty high on the list. The bureau is heavy, and I was still fairly weak, and my joints hurt, and our bedroom is on the first floor, so I decided to climb out the window rather than be caged in my own home like some white-collar criminal under house arrest. Getting out the window was tricky, since my joints were so stiff, and I ended up falling into a flowerbed.
But can I take a moment to ask –again — what kind of horrible monster of a man barricades his wife in their bedroom? I guess I should have realized when he took all the food that he expected me to starve to death.
He’d locked the front door when he left — also a dick move — so I couldn’t get to the car keys. Paul lives three houses down from us, and just when I’d resolved to ask his wife for a ride to their cabin and begun walking down the street, I noticed Noreen approaching me.
“Paul left me!” she said.
“Bill left me!” I said.
She was limping, too, and wearing purple silk pajamas. Her eyes looked dull and tired, like she’d been asleep for about 30 hours, but her voice sounded pissed off. “What a couple of assholes!”
“I’ve been sick!” I said. “Who leaves his wife when she’s sick?”
“Paul, apparently,” said Noreen. “I came down with a fever last night, and when I woke up this morning, he was all, ‘Oh by the way, Noreen, I’m leaving you. And I’m barricading you in our bedroom. Don’t follow me.’”
“Bill said the same thing to me!” I cried. “And he also barricaded me in our bedroom!”
“What is their problem?”
“I don’t know, but we should definitely follow them.”
“Oh, definitely,” said Noreen. “Except that Paul locked the car keys in the house.”
At this point Noreen and I resolved to walk to gas station to call a locksmith. The gas station is only about three-quarters of a mile from our street. We were both so stiff and our legs felt so heavy that it took us almost an hour to get there. I felt ridiculous being so immobile, like a toddler who’s just learned to walk, and I think Noreen felt the same way, but we were both too irate to let it deter us. There was nobody on the road to see us anyway.
When we got to the gas station, it was closed, which is rare for a Thursday afternoon, but at that point I really wasn’t putting it beyond Bill or Paul to have bribed them, in some ridiculous further attempt to prevent us from getting to the cabin. And of course this just made Noreen and me more suspicious of them, and more pissed off, and more perplexed. I mean, seriously. Who the fuck does that?
We kept walking. The cabin isn’t more than a forty-minute drive from where we live, but believe it or not, it takes two gimpy, middle-aged women much longer to make it that far on foot. The farther we walked, the more angry we became, partly because we were cranky and our limbs ached, and partly because when two gimpy, middle-aged women have husbands who have wronged them in exactly the same way, new reasons for hating the husbands are found with exponentially increasing frequency: Bill drank too much — so did Paul! ; Paul was always watching golf tournaments on TV when Noreen wanted to talk with him about her feelings and what he wanted for dinner — Bill did the same to me! And coincidentally, neither was any good in bed!
We got to the cabin late Friday evening, just as it was beginning to get dark. Paul’s truck was parked in the gravel drive with the hatch down, and Bill’s cooler was on the porch, half-full of beer and chipped ham sandwiches. Noreen and I had walked at least 25 miles and neither of us had worn shoes. Bill and Paul had been drinking beer and sitting on a couch, possibly wearing shoes even as their stupid, flabby asses rested on goose feathers. Oh, we hated them.
“Should we knock on the door?” I asked Noreen.
Before she could tell me that we should just drive the truck through the cabin, Paul walked out onto the porch to get a beer. He froze when he saw us standing in the driveway, our bare feet raw and bleeding onto the gravel, our pajamas covered in dirt and exhaust fumes, our hair uncombed and our eyes hungry and full of hate.
“Grab me one, too!” Bill called from inside the cabin.
Paul didn’t take his eyes off of us. He called back, “Our wives are here.”
Yes, I thought, and I know Noreen thought it, too. Yes, they are afraid. They should be afraid. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” Noreen’s mother-in-law always said. “And she should know,” Noreen always said, “I’m sure she’s there.”
Bill came onto the porch with his hunting rifle raised onto his shoulder. “I didn’t want to have to do this, Amelia,” he said. “I told you not to follow me.” He was training the rifle at my head.
Before I could ask Bill just what in the name of Jesus Christ he thought he was doing, Noreen had bitten off half of Paul’s face. Bill was so surprised that he misfired the rifle and hit one of the tires on Paul’s truck.
“Noreen!” I said. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know what came over me!” Her mouth was full of red, and she couldn’t stop licking her lips, like a dog who’s been given peanut butter.
Bill looked from Noreen, to what was left of Paul, to me. He let the rifle fall from his hands onto the porch, where it misfired again, this time hitting the cooler. “Amelia,” he said, his voice cracking with desperation and fear, “you guys are zombies.”
I studied Noreen for a moment. She was gnawing lustily at Paul’s neck, opening his arteries with her teeth. “Is that why you left?” I asked.
“Of course it is!” Bill cried.
What an asshole! What kind of man leaves his wife of eight years just because she’s become a zombie?
It’s funny the way life works, though. On Wednesday morning I loved my husband. On Thursday afternoon my husband left me. And now it’s Friday night, and I’m sitting at the fire pit outside the cabin with Noreen, eating my husband’s calf like a turkey leg.
Originally published at frictionlesssuperfeet.tumblr.com.