All Come True
There had been threats in the past. Promises too. They orbited warily around us -- uneasy moons in a shrinking sky. As the new words between us replaced the old, our unfulfilled past faded out in streaks of recrimination and regret. We traced the history of our marriage in those dying patterns, wishing we could be better to each other.

Perhaps if we woke up as different people. Wandering through a house not quite our own, we could make up stories about the things we found there. Best wishes, spoken through a veil of vague familiarity, for the couple in the wedding picture on the bedroom dresser. Smiling excuses for the untrimmed lilac bushes near the front door, their branches drooping with sweet lavender cones.

We are not different people. We cannot talk through the night as if pulling on a loose thread, enjoying surprises that delight instead of confirm. Instead I sit alone on the upholstered bench behind the curtains that cover the bay window, waiting to pull them aside, and for the sun to squirt through the panes of glass like water through a shot-up bucket. Waiting the same way one does on the final morning of a train trip home from a faraway place, the landscape, transparent in its intimacy, sliding past in tired recognition.

Now we have come to wonder silently at the young couple in the wedding picture, their smiles a static reproach to our lives as they are -- a gone-wrongness of unthinking missteps and belated remorse. The lilac bushes scratched her face yesterday, their spring smell unable to deflect her anger at me for failing to trim them.

It is over for the different people we are not and never will be, the divorce lawyers have done their work and convinced us finally of that. Their crisp, white letters wait for us on the small table near the front door, next to my packed suitcases.

We have made the threats instead of the promises come true, and all the wishing in the world won't refill the empty sky greeting me as I walk out the door for the last time.

Steve Sanders