I’m a woman who loves a man, who loves his dog more than me.
To make him happy, I cook his favorite foods. Last night’s dinner was a porterhouse steak with baked potato and sauteed mushrooms glistening on the side. I enjoy watching him eat with relish, even though he pats the dog on the head while grunting with satisfaction.
I strive to make him feel as carefree as I would like to be. Since I’m a bookkeeper by trade, it made sense for me to take over our finances—a task my husband hates more than cats. To save money, I also file our tax returns.
I made it my business to excel at cleaning because a rectified house keeps him comfortable and balanced. Like an expert launderer, I look after his clothes: removing spots and stains, scrubbing and bleaching until they’re pristine. I iron his shirts, smooth as skin.
As I work, I tell myself, this is a good thing.
Before walking the dog, my husband likes to admire himself in the hall mirror. Sometimes he stays away for hours and comes home looking rumpled. On those days, a flowery fragrance lingers when I collect his clothes off the floor at bedtime.
Today, I tell him, “Not all dogs have four legs.”
He sucks down his coffee and picks up the leash. The dog wags her tail and glances over her shoulder at me. I could swear she winks.
Again, my husband arrives home late and disheveled. I feed him a luscious trifle laced with brandy and topped in whipped cream. He slurps down two helpings, the dog lying at his feet, head resting on paws, eyes fixed on me. My husband stretches and yawns before trudging up the stairs for a long sleep.
He awakens at nine o’clock, rolls onto his back, and sniffs in puzzlement at air devoid of bacon and coffee aromas. He yells my name three times.
In the kitchen, he stares at unwashed dishes strewn across the table. In the laundry room, he gapes at his dirty clothes piled up against the washer, a big box of detergent tossed on top. He runs out to the garage and throws up the door. He stands mute in his spotless, striped pajamas, silenced by the emptiness.
At least, this is what I envision.
I’m two states away, sitting behind the wheel of his fine convertible, my foot pressed hard on the gas. My favorite belongings fill the trunk: whimsical artworks, my polka dot teacups with a ladybug perched atop each handle, my happy Buddha, and the household ledger.
My secret bank account—fat and healthy—awaits a good spend. I’ve always charged him fees for the work I do.
My sights are set on the orange groves and sunlit houses of Florida, where ocean breezes tussle hair and refresh the spirit.
Freedom lies ahead.
I turn toward my passenger, adjust her seat belt and trill, “This is the best thing ever.”
Then, I grin, and the dog grins back.