I’m driving with her sitting across the cab from me. The brilliant, glowing sunlight is cut by the sharp shadows cast by the supports of the bridge we are driving across. Over the last decade all of our holidays had been driving holidays. We had always found peace in the sanctuary of a vehicle but this drive was different.
The counselling session had been our last and we both knew it. For now, she is still my wife and the fact that I know we are going to be separating doesn’t change this fact. She is the love of my life and has been for most of my adulthood.
We haven’t said anything aloud so for now we are still a couple. I look across the vehicle and see her face – now haloed by sunlight, now cast in shadow – beautiful and calm. Life has shown me how fleeting memories can be and I want to capture this image of her: the peaceful look, hint of a smile, a curl of hair that has flipped out from where she tucked it behind her ear. That curl of hair annoys her like crazy but always makes me smile, makes me reach over and tuck it back in place. I want to tell her that I still love her but I can’t break the silence and end the moment.
The traffic is crawling now. We are sitting in the middle of the bridge. I look around at the other vehicles and wonder if their lives are in a state of turmoil too. I am feeling fairly calm and probably don’t look like my world is rocking on its axis. Nobody looking at us could tell. I hear her sigh and feel the seat move as she leans back.
Last night we’d had one of our first honest conversations in a long time. We had been laying in bed beside each other, not touching. The ceiling fan was ineffectively trying to blow away the oppressively hot evening air. “I think we can be good roommates after this.” “I agree. I really think we could be.” “I don’t want a roommate.”
Our hands meet in the middle of the cab. The CDs scattered on the seat feel cold and foreign against the back of my hand as the radio plays some nameless forgettable song. I wanted to grasp our relationship the same way I was grasping her hand but most of me knew it wouldn’t change anything. I knew that she didn’t want the loveless marriage that her parents had, that my parents had. I didn’t want that either. We had just finished detailing that with the counsellor. We both knew. Neither of us liked the truth.
“I’m going to miss you. I still…”
“Don’t! Don’t you dare say anything. Can you just shut up and let me have this last drive with you?”
“Yes.” I didn’t mean to whisper, to choke over the word. “Yes,” I say louder, more firmly.
The rest of the ride home is quiet. The moment, the marriage, and the memories are behind us now. The bridge was long but we’ve crossed it.