portrait of a marriage 

gaia kannan

He sits smoking in the chair in his bedroom hours after his wife has fallen asleep. She lays there under the covers in a heavy cotton nightgown. He doesn’t open the window. She smells smoke in her dreams. When she wakes up, he will not be there. He will be at the office where he will fire a sales manager. She will go to work at the modeling agency where she takes photos of women twenty years younger than her and wishes that her thighs would disappear. He will take off his wedding ring and go to the Sheraton and meet his secretary. She will fall asleep in the taxi and wake up only when the driver pulls up to their house. He will put his ring back on and go home. She will put a casserole in the oven and imitate a good wife. He will eat two servings and chase it down with a beer and not bother to imitate a good husband.

She sits drinking wine in the study while her husband watches the game downstairs. He has told her not to disturb him or distract him for the rest of the night. She gets tired and goes to bed when half the bottle is gone. He sleeps on the couch. When he wakes up, she will be gone. He will go to the office in suit and tie and sign checks he knows will bounce. She will be at the modeling agency taking photos of men twenty years younger than her who make her want to take off her wedding ring. He will take off his wedding ring and go to the Hilton and meet his boss’s wife. She will fall asleep in the taxi and wake up only when the driver pulls up to their house. He will put his ring back on and go home. She will overcook penne and drown it in store-bought alfredo sauce and ask about his day. He will eat two servings and chase it down with a beer and lie.

He sits smoking with no shirt on in the basement den talking to his brother on the phone. She lays awake in bed watching TV and painting her nails. He pours a glass of brandy and argues with his brother. She falls asleep with curlers in her hair when she is certain her nails have dried. When she wakes up, he will be in the kitchen drinking coffee. She will go to the modeling agency and take photos of men and women twenty years younger than her. He will go to the office and be handed a pink slip. She will take off her wedding ring and go to the Sheraton with one of her models. He will keep his wedding ring on and go to a motel. She will go home. He will not go home but he will go to the gas station for vodka and cigarettes. She will order Chinese food and eat it on the couch watching Friends. He will put the cigarettes out on his own skin and wish the vodka was cyanide.

Gaia Kannan is a freshman at UAlbany majoring in English. Born in Virginia, she moved to Clifton Park, New York at a young age. She's a big fan of the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres.