Friday, July 5, 2019

The Windrows

From the living room window, Edith could see the snowplows. Must be here for the windrows, she thought, happy to finally be rid of the jagged sediment left behind by past plows. The piles of thick snowy detritus were beginning to look like a barricade, mucked up and browned like the kind you see in war films. They had been there for a month now, ever since the city sent their motor graders to clean up and chip away at the snow-packed roads. It was the last time Edith had seen her husband.

Gary had come home late that day. It had taken ages to get home from work, he said, the roads were terrible, the snow piling high, visibility low, he said and said and said. For months now, Gary had been coming home late, and for months, Edith had suspected an affair. That unfamiliar scent on his neck, the subtle smiles at the corner of his mouth when he thought she wasn’t looking, the way he tiptoed everytime he got home like a guilty teenager out past his curfew. The night before the windrows, Edith decided to confront Gary about his little dalliance. She would make Chicken à la King, ply him with his favourite dish. They had been eating for twenty minutes when she asked him.

To be honest, he said, it’s a relief that you know.

She was floored. He hadn’t even had the decency to pretend. To act as if this was an impossibility, that he would never cheat on her, her, her, the diamond of this relationship. But there he was, admitting it with the deepest of breaths, a light entering his eyes that hadn’t been there for months.

The ache in her that had been there all this time, the pain and betrayal, the grief that had seeped into the walls of their home, into her eyes as she watched the snow fall night after night, an empty driveway filling up to remind her that not only would she have to shovel it the next day, but that her husband was simply not there, that he was out somewhere with someone who was not her, laughing the way that he used to laugh with her, maybe even whispering to her under softly snowflaked light—it all expanded, rising up before catching in her throat.

She asked him not to see her again, knowing that he would not agree to it, knowing that his next words would be that he was leaving her, and that Cressida—Cressida? she shuddered—had been asking him to leave her for a month now, and that he would finally have the courage—courage? she barked—to be with the woman he loved.

The blizzard spiralled outside as Gary mouthed the last bits of chicken, turned to Edith, and thanked her. Thanked her. He told her he was going to pack his things, and Edith felt her whole body go cold, knew that whatever happened, this was always as it had to be, that there was no other possible way, that ever since the day she and Gary had married, under a white plastic arbour bought at Wal-Mart, their life together would end like this, in a blizzard in the thick of February. She followed him into their bedroom and closed the door.

The next day, the graders came, stacking sharp clumps of compact snow atop one another, burying anything the night before might have left behind. Edith had hoped she wouldn’t see her husband again after that night. She had wished not to see that horrible cut she had given his perfect face, or the blood that ribboned its way out of him like a party streamer. She did not want the reminder of the shouting, slashing, dragging.

But now, a month later, as the plows ripped the caked snow and dirt from the boulevards, Edith thought perhaps she would like to see her husband once again. Yes, she thought, that might be nice to see him once more. It might even offer some closure. So she waited and watched as the plow groaned on.

~FIN~