Welcome, dear friends, to Open Mic Friday!
Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Helena Osorio-Zavala, whom I met last summer at VONA. She’s sharing a fictional work in progress, and would appreciate any feedback.
Anatomy of a (Failed) Marriage, Helena Osorio-Zavala
Last Chance Harvey with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman is about to start. Watching a movie at home in sweats is what our Valentine’s celebration has derived to. I guess that is what reality — having to pay bills, take out the trash, and walk the dog — will do to your dream of happily ever after.
I wish someone had told me what marriage was all about, that’s what I always say. And probably someone did but I most likely didn’t listen. You see I was in love (and in shock that he wanted to marry me). And so one Friday afternoon, during my lunch break, my wonderful beau and I got married through a service window at the courthouse. The reception followed at McDonald’s.
Fast-forward ten years, and here we are sitting across from each other on a white leather sofa, a pillow carefully placed between us ensuring we don’t touch.
“Are you happy?” I ask.
“Not everything has been terrible…there have been good times,” he answers.
“Are you happy?” I ask again.
He sighs and goes into one of his prolonged explanations about the nature of love. I roll my eyes at his extended statements. There was a time when I used to love all his knowledge and solemnity and he got turned on by my dark humor and irreverence.
“Yes or no,” I interrupt.
He is unable to give me a one-word answer. I have no idea what he is saying and he loses my attention. I’ve wandered off and visit those few happy marriages that post pictures holding hands on Facebook, the ones that make me yearn for our first years together when I would sing his name into my favorite songs and he would caress my back with a rose. The smile these memories create grows opaque by the reminder of the more recent routine sex and muteness that plague us. I realize we have become roommates. When did we fall into the passionless marriage category? Why are we staying? Why does anyone? Why put up with it?
His tone of voice alerts me he is about to finish. He tells me that love is not only feeling butterflies in our stomachs but a choice.
“Dude! Forget the butterflies…I just think we should have some feeling for each other. Enough of the happy couple role play,” I say.
“So, you are not happy. You don’t love me?” He whispers.
I have been waiting for him to ask me this. I sigh. Shake my head. I don’t have to say anything. For a second he looks defeated. I think we both are.
No one, and I generalize, gets married thinking about divorce. I know I didn’t. I look back at how naïve we were when we got married and wonder how we have survived these ten years together. We have lied, schemed against each other, purposely inflicted deep wounds, pointed fingers and above all else avoided honesty and responsibility.
“I am scared to be alone,” I say, reining in my desire to throw myself at him and kiss him.
“So am I,” he replies.
For once, we are showing ourselves, we are saying what we mean, and meaning what we say.
We open a bottle of wine, and drink from it silently. There are still many questions left unanswered. A blue folder holding divorce papers watches vigilantly over us. Is this the ending of a failed marriage or the beginning of a successful one?
“I married for life,” he tells me.
“Even if we are not happy?”
“We can work at being happy .” He sounds so convincing I let my guard down.
In his usual stern style he thanks me for my time and brutal honesty. I give him one of my nervous smile, the ones he calls sarcastic. We turn our attention to the T.V. screen. We cry together, not sure if this could be our last chance.
Helena Osorio-Zavala lives in sunny Miami, Florida, with her three year old son, her husband and her bulldog. She is a Broadcast Producer for a national advertising agency and is pursuing a Certificate in Creative Writing from UCLA Extension. When she is not at work or being a mom she enjoys reading, writing and traveling. She is obsessed with relationships and parenting. You can read some of her Mommy Rants at megamama.wordpress.com.
Thank you so much, Helena!
And now — the comments are open. Go to it!