Wythe Marschall


Walk downstairs. Open the blue door. Be careful of the low-hanging SORTIE sign. Wish you'd learned French. Think about French food. As you walk to your car, think about how hungry you are. Think about dinner. Think about the meal Wanda might or might not have made. Open the car door. Curse yourself, that you left it unlocked all day. Put your briefcase in the seat beside you. Sit down.

Turn on the car. Turn down the radio. Turn it off. Put in a CD. Think about that concert last fall. Turn left. Wait in traffic. Curse. Detour right. Spend ten minutes trying to find a four-lane road. Curse Montreal. Sigh. Hum along. Turn up the CD. Let loose.

Finally pull onto the autoroute. Hum louder. Sing. Curse a slow guy. Resolve to do less cursing. Merge left. Fly by him. Notice he's old. Think about aging. Wonder if you'll still love Wanda in ten years. Twenty. Fifty. Wonder what your hair will look like. Curse male pattern baldness. Drive faster to compensate.

Take the fourth exit. Stop at the grocer. As you walk in, think about what flowers you want to buy. Ignore the pansies. Admire the lilies. Pour disdain upon the too-pretty (too-expensive) orchids. Settle on roses. Notice the grocer's wife. Say hello. Pretend to understand French. Mumble in Spanish. Giggle when she giggles. Pay. At the last second, remember that you want mints. Buy mints. Have exact change. Pump your fist in delight at this. Walk back out to your car. Drive off.

Pull into the driveway. Notice a strange car parked alongside yours. Grimace noncommittally. Push the clicker to open the garage. Push it again. Again. Say, "Shit!"  Say it again. Put the car in park. Get out. Wonder if that isn't the grocer's car.

Walk inside. Notice salsa music playing in the bedroom. Put down your keys. See the full ashtray. Hear laughter. Creep toward the kitchen.

Peek into the kitchen. Close your eyes. Smell coriander. Remember Wanda's pizza with coriander-pesto sauce. Open your eyes. Look at your wife. Look at the love of your life. Naked. Look at her, naked, feeding a droopingly-cheesed slice to the grocer, his button-down denim shirt half-unbuttoned, his smile that of the criminal who has forgotten his crime. Look at Wanda. Realize they haven't noticed you yet. Watch yourself creep backwards. Don't think about the roses. Don't throw them down. Just walk out.

Walk to your car. Get in. Let the flowers fall onto your briefcase. Sit still. Contemplate crying. Start the car. Sniffle as a song about a long night in Memphis starts. Tap your fingers to the beat. Back into the street--watch out for the cat!  Jesus, don't lose it now. Swivel, in reverse. Straighten out. Drive. Turn onto unfamiliar roads. Let them lead you into the unfamiliar distance. Hum along. Go out for pizza. Smile once in a while. Look on the bright side. And for Chrissakes, don't forget to buckle up.


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