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Friday, July 14, 2017

(1) MY REVERIES SHIFTED FROM SUICIDE TO MURDER.

December 9, 1970
Fort Lauderdale
     “I have something to add to the shopping list. Where is it?” I asked my husband.
     “In my wallet. It’s on the bureau.”
      This is how I happened to find the letter. Like countless other wives, I found a letter. Without my reading glasses, I saw only the kisses at the end and imagined it was one of mine. Then I saw Ed standing in the doorway. His face told me everything.
      I have been as naïve as any other last-to-know wife.
      I thought I had imagination enough to keep myself interesting and desirable to my husband in and out of bed. But there was one element I could not provide: a different body. One woman was not enough for him, it seemed, and hadn't been enough for years.
     I feel as obliterated as a figure erased from a blackboard. Life stands still. I have nothing. I am nothing. What do I do at age forty-nine?  Go out on the nearest street corner and announce my new status?  "Hey, you fellows who used to dance closer than you should have, guess what, I'm available!"
     It's too late.  I'm too old.  Who can see or hear an obliterated figure?
     Ed has flown back to Boston.  Like an automaton I drove him to the airport.  I watched him start up his plane. Why didn't I run out in front of it to stop him? Today is our thirty-second anniversary. . . .
     What does a woman do when she is jolted from a dream world and discovers her marriage is a mockery of what she thought it was? If she's like me, she goes crazy with shock and bitterness. Business trips, he called them? I call them monkey-business trips.
      I gave boozing a try—not so much to drown my sorrows as to get attention from Ed.
      "He wants a different woman? By God, I'll give him a different woman," I scowled into the mirror, toasting my bleary-eyed image with a third double martini.
      My alcoholic phase didn't last long. For one thing, Ed was disgusted with my drinking and reported it to our children. For another, I couldn't stand the hangovers. Alcoholism wasn't my bag.
      I spent a lot of time curled up in bed, thinking about suicide. Then my reveries shifted from suicide to murder. One of us had to go; there wasn't room on this painful planet for both of us. "I didn't do anything, why should I be the one to die?” 
BIRD FEEDERS STRUNG ON A LINE
      In a recurring scenario, Ed walks across the yard to the greenhouse. He passes a bird-feeder strung on a line between the greenhouse and the porch.
      "Officers," I would say to the policemen examining the 22 rifle, "I was shooting at a starling, and my husband happened to walk by when I pulled the trigger. You see, the Audubon Society says it's all right to shoot starlings because they're not indigenous to Massachusetts." What could be more convincing, especially with the word "indigenous" thrown in?
      Nah, they'd never buy it.
      The torment was relentless. Sleep was impossible. When desperation drove me to take the pills, there were only twenty left.

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  10. Dear Other Mother, I remember how confused and upset I was to learn of Uncle Ed's shenanigans and your divorce. My mind kept asking the question "How could he do this to my beautiful Auntie Barb?" I was indignant - for you - for myself too. We have had similar experiences in the husband department and both of us, being the strong women we are, have flourished despite them. I always love you.

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