The marriage ended before he learned what she looked like when the white started showing at the roots of her hairline. It ended before their sorrows etched themselves on her face and their joy left its mark in the corner of her eyes. Before their grandchildren crawled onto their laps to hear about when their parent was little and landed the biggest fish ever. Even before the child they never made grew inside of her, filling her with the kind of hope that stretched and wrapped itself around their dreams.
The marriage was over before she danced in New York, San Francisco, São Paulo, London, Tokyo. It was over before he bought the little cabin in the woods where they sat on the porch with steaming cups of coffee and watched the sun rise over the hills. Before they hiked El Calafate, silent when the path was steep and remembering to reach out a hand on the patches of irregular terrain. Even before they swam the wondrous depths in Fernando de Noronha, tickled by the fish that swarmed around them and anointed by the warm sun that smiled down at their delight.
The marriage was broken before they stopped talking about the little grievances that slowly pinched at her lips until they could no longer wrap themselves around the words she never said. It was broken before he began to predict the look on her face when he forgot, yet again, to put down the toilet seat and take out the trash and find a new roll of toilet paper. Before she bought the odd-smelling soap and left traces of mouthwash on the sink and droplets of toothpaste sprayed on the bathroom mirror. Even before he learned that she didn’t floss and rarely appreciated it when he pointed out that there was a little fleck of green in her tooth, no, the other side, yes, there, it’s gone now.
The marriage was finished before he learned how she liked her tea and whether she needed company or solitude when her head ached, and her body begged for rest. It was finished before she found the spot at his temple where she would run her fingers through his hair softly, then firmly, to smooth away the challenges of the day. Before they learned how their bodies fit when she nested into the curve of his embrace, legs entangled, his breath soft in her ear as they fell back into sleep. Even before he learnt the silent catch of air that preceded the softening of her face when he told her that he loved her, that he would always love her.
The marriage crumbled before he memorized the tilt of her head when she listened to his thoughts or the way her nose scrunched up mid-laugh. It crumbled before he traced the curve of her body and felt each line imprint itself in his soul even as it morphed and shifted with the passing of the seasons. Crumbled before he learned her rhythms and watched, in awe, as her body moved, pliant, supple, and imbued with unfathomable grace. Before he ever caught her mid-twirl and inhaled her gasp of pleasure when he pulled her into him. Before he ever told her she was beautiful.
The marriage was lost before he ever met her, before he noticed the kindness in her eyes, or the smile traced with the red that matched a dress that had lured him from across the room. Lost before he held her hand or asked her name and heard the voice that would have haunted his daydreams. Before he was old enough to know that while the beauty of the dancing shoes may reflect the dedication of the tanguera – a promise, of sorts – life rarely follows the rules of tango.
The marriage was doomed to never exist because the woman who might have been his soulmate had deplorable taste in shoes and he found that it was an irreconcilable difference.
Amy Marques grew up between languages and places and learned, from an early age, the multiplicity of narratives. She penned children’s books, barely read medical papers, and numerous letters before turning to short fiction and visual poetry. She is a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best of the Net nominee and has work published most recently in Streetcake Magazine, MoonPark Review, Bending Genres, Gone Lawn, Jellyfish Review, and Reservoir Road Literary Review. Read more at https://amybookwhisperer.wordpress.com.
Photo Credit: Kelsey Erica Tran is an aspiring photographer and poet. Studying photography for two years in high school, she developed a passion for the art and hopes to turn it into a future career. Her first piece “Illuminate” was published in Apricity Magazine.
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