In The Kitchen Conjugating

by Anna Breslin

Jane. What a name. So plain, Jane. So sweet, Jane. So Rolling Stones’ Lady Jane with colors in her hair like the rainbow.

How do you conjugate Jane? I Jane, I Janed, I am Janing.

I am a clever drunk. It’s too bad there aren’t cameras here and an audience to enjoy my wit. I’d be a star. Bigger than Roseanne ever was.

Where is Richard today? Oh, he’s on a business trip. No. That’s not what he was packing for. But he was packing this morning. Oh right, it was the rest of his things. Yes, he was packing, then he was packed. Maybe he’s unpacking now.

We’ll no longer be conjugating. No longer will we be coupled, connected, or related. That’s it. Kaput.

He found a younger me. Or maybe she’s an older someone else. We’re done, that’s all that matters now. That’s what he said.

I know I should cry it out, but the whiskey makes me oh so very dry.

Whatever, whoever she is, I’m sure she’s more sober than I am right now. That won’t last. I’ll stop drinking and start going to the gym. She’ll do the opposite.

His words echo. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

He envisioned a life with four kids. He said he couldn’t be happy with anything less. He said that right here in this kitchen that we had painted yellow two months earlier.
I was baking cinnamon raisin bread. He was wearing the polo shirt I bought him for our trip to Florida with our son, the boy who looked more like me than him. He resented both of us for that.

I told him, I didn’t envision marrying a man who would leave me for getting cancer if it meant I couldn’t give him four kids.

He looked at me. His words still echo stupidly around these walls like a bouncing ball. As I sit here, I can still hear them.

“I just want to live my best life, Jane. I can’t do that without a big family. That’s what I want. Look, I waited until you got better.”

His best life.

How can anyone live their best life by breaking their vows, I wonder.
When I had talked to him about adopting, he said he wanted kids that were both of ours, meaning his. 

He suggested we speak to a fertility specialist. I could use donor eggs since mine were killed with radiation, but my womb couldn’t hold them. So, we could use donor eggs, his sperm, and a surrogate. It would have cost over $75,000.00 per child. It was cheaper for him to find someone who would freely donate their genetic material and gestating body.

It was good to find out that I was only a means to an end. No, it wasn’t. But it is better, now that he’s gone. It will be. Nothing remains. Not after this morning.

Where is that boy?

Oh, God. Why does he have to see me drunk again?

What can I do? I suppose it could be worse. He could have a mother on oxy, or I could be a meth-head with no teeth. He doesn’t have it so bad.

Not as bad as I think.

He doesn’t know his father is going to have children with a young womb, his new womb-an. He doesn’t know that she will treat him like a second-class kid, and then his father will do the same because he’s half me and doesn’t look nearly enough like him as he should. I can see it now.

Oh, wait, maybe that was a show on Netflix, British, maybe.

I should really pull myself together. The bus will deliver him soon, oh damn, here he is walking in the door.

“Hi, Mom, I’m home.”

“There you are. Give me a hug. Listen, I want you to promise me something.”

“Okay, Mom.” He smiled a little and caught himself. He pulled it back a little.

“Know that I love you, kiddo. No matter what’s going on with me. Whether I’m happy or sad or somewhere in between, I love you. Will you promise always to remember that?”

“Yes, Mom.” Oh, the eye-roll, but he smiled too. He likes it when I tell him I love him, but he’s starting to think he’s too old for it. Ten is not too old.

“Hey, don’t roll your eyes. This is what you’re going to remember when times are tough when you feel alone. When things aren’t going well. You’re going to remember that your mother loves you, unconditionally. You may not know what that’s like until you have your own kids, though.”

“Okay, Mom. Can I do my homework now?”

“Yes. Go ahead.” I sit and watch his little body disappear for a moment.
It’s so much like watching my heart walk around on its own, I wonder if mine is still beating. He could have been adopted and I wouldn’t love him any less. 

I’ll make some coffee. No, I’ll drink some water. I’ll flush this drunk out of me. I drank, I drunk, I was dumped. So what? Once more with feeling. Ding dong, Mike is gone. I’ll be alright, okay, fine, maybe even wonderful.

I can still taste the saltiness of my son’s forehead on my lips.

I can still remember when I could hold the entirety of him in my two hands.

Oh, how can I cry over a man who believes his life should be like a clickbait title? I was, now I can’t.

© 2020, A. Breslin. All Rights Reserved


Image Credit: Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash

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