Coffee In The Morning
by Roger D'Agostin
Julie didn’t talk about her wedding day. If the subject came up she would say, “You
know it was so hectic I really don’t remember much.” That was not true. What Julie remembered was the Pastor saying, “tyke” instead of “take.” Do you Julie, tyke Mitchell. Do you Mitchell, tyke Julie. And she never said anything to her husband. Even, when Mitchell told her he had a dream about their wedding, she didn’t ask if the pastor said, tyke instead of take.
“It was terrible,” Mitchell said.
“It was terrible. Strange. After the ceremony, I viciously beat someone.” He peered at his wife. A dish slipped from her hands but she caught it just as it hit the counter top. She heard it crack but continued to wipe it dry. She glanced at her husband who fiddled with the clasp on his watch.
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. But the priest never said dreams. He never said, notebooks piled in the corner. Or if this man wakes in the middle of the night and scribbles for hours. Through good dreams and bad. Take this man even if he sulks about the house for weeks because he doesn’t remember his dreams.
There was a time when every morning the first thing Mitchell did was write down
whatever he could recall. In the middle of the night, if he suddenly awoke, he would turn on the lights and write. “It's insight into what I'm truly thinking,” he told her. “An invaluable tool for self-growth.” But he hadn’t spoken about his dreams for a few weeks. Until now.
“It was horrible – Did you make coffee?”
“Yes, of course, here it is.” She handed him a just-filled cup.
“It was under such strange circumstances. The whole setting was- I don’t know-macabre. Yes, macabre is the best way to describe it.” The husband took a sip. “See, I was walking-”
“Could we talk about it later?”
“Later. I’d just rather not hear about it right now, honey. But this evening. This evening you can tell me.” Her voice softened. “Besides, you have to get ready for work.” She quickly turned back to the sink.
To love, cherish, and obey. But the priest did not say listen. Really listen. Listen so
intently your head starts to hurt. Day after day if necessary. Listen. He never said that. Nor did he mention anger or rage or bitter silence. Or say, when your husband asks you to look through his notebooks for that dream about the lockers in high school. The one where he knows his combination but is unable to locate his locker and so he starts trying the combination on each one, going down hallway after endless hallway. The priest didn’t say make sure you really pay attention. If he tells you he has looked in all the notebooks on the left side and you should start going through the ones on the right. Don’t forget. Don’t look through the ones he has already checked. You need to listen. And cherish and love and endure.
“Can you hand me the dishrag,” Mitchell asked. Julie hesitated then handed it to him. He folded it neatly on the table, then removed his watch and placed it on top. He took another sip, then suddenly slammed the mug down.
The watch bounced off the table and shattered. Julie instinctively grabbed a dishrag and blanketed the spill. The black liquid crawled into the cloth. Mitchell stared straight ahead.
Julie never thought until death do us part meant her death. It was his. While driving
home from Southern New Jersey late at night on a Friday because he wanted to see her and not stay over at a hotel and a tractor trailer cut him off on the George Washington Bridge. Or because of his disgust of prunes and prune juice which he only ate when his constipation was unbearable. If he consistently ingested dietary fiber like his doctor recommended, he would not have had the aneurysm on the toilet. Of course she would never tell people he died in this manner. She would lie and say he suffered the aneurysm stepping into the shower. The sound of his skull cracking against the tile was horrific. Terrible, she would tell people.
But not nearly as terrible as a husband who hammered his mug into the table snapping off the handle and slicing open his hand. Who chased his wife into the bedroom screaming, “Listen to me.” Who pinned her against a mess of notebooks and grabbed her neck with his bloody hand.
Roger D'Agostin is a writer living in Connecticut.