I did just as your mother said. I got a drink, just one, and drove around. I needed to clear my head, cool off. I must have been on the road a couple of hours, aimlessly circling the city, my head full of white noise and things I should have said. An unsettling feeling washed over me and I remembered when I was young and played a joke on my brother. I turned his stereo all the way up and then unplugged it from the wall.
When he came home the first thing he did was plug in his stereo, and the sudden blast of noise literally tripped him back over his chair. I know now why my subconscious conjured that memory: it was preparing me for a similar jolt. I wanted desperately for everything to be all right between your mother and I, but deep down I felt something had happened that couldn’t be fixed. There was a sense of detachment to the whole evening. It was unlike any argument we had had before; there was a sort of finality to it. This thought was like that stereo blast – it filled my ears and shook my body into a frenzy. I made a u-turn, ran a red light and reached the house in five minutes. I charged into our unlocked home, fearing the worst.
The house was dark except for one light seeping through the crack in the kitchen door, conspicuously closed. My shoes rapped against the hardwood floor, the sound filling the room. I stopped and listened to the sounds of the house, looking at that crack of light, frozen. The refrigerator buzzed off. The AC kicked on. Outside, crickets sang relentlessly. The din of silence telling of an empty home. I felt outside myself, watching my legs carry me through the kitchen door to the table, my hand picking up a note, going in and out of focus. The words read aloud in my mind, off-screen, as in a movie.
I never loved you. I’m sorry.
Six words. Six words for six years. I sat at the table, impossibly still except for a small tremble in my left hand – the hand that held the letter. I thought of the spoon in your mother’s cup. I thought of the way an earthquake is often portrayed in the movies: starting with the smallest of tremors, almost a question, a curio shelf rattling in the next room, a tremor that quickly escalates into a nightmare of toppled bookshelves, blasted windows, exploding pipes, a collapsed ceiling burying its victims beneath a pile of rubble and fallen walls.
When I opened my eyes I stood up, pushed in my chair, cleaned the refrigerator, organized the pantry and scrubbed the floors.