Single In The Suburbs, Installment 15

Now that our columnist has someone new, her ex-husband is calling. What does he need to discuss so urgently? Find out here.

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, our writer had a delightful date with Leo, the mathematician. But upon returning home, she received a call from Craig, her ex, saying he needed to talk to her…and he was sounding very serious. What could be going on?

Saturday, 4:45 p.m.
Craig will be here in here in about a half hour. I brush my hair and reapply my make-up. I can’t help myself. I still want to look good for him. I want him to see me looking gorgeous, and then I want him to kick himself for leaving me. Wait. Let me amend that. I
I thought for a moment that Craig was still in love with me…
have to remind myself that I’m the one who initiated the separation. But he never tried to talk me out of it, not even once. He never said, Please don’t leave me. Or, I can’t live without you. Or, I love you so much, Sara, I will do anything to make this work.

By the time I asked Craig for a divorce two years ago on a cold and overcast afternoon in late March, he made no effort to dissuade me. I often wonder whether we still might be married today if he had expressed even a scant measure of resistance. I remember searching his eyes for a sign of pain or disappointment but all I saw, really, was relief.

Saturday, 6:20 p.m.
Craig is late, as usual. I look out the living room window and find him sitting in his car outside the house, talking on his cell phone. I have no idea how long he’s been out there. I grab my book of crossword puzzles and try to focus. Eighteen across. Sparkling headwear. Five letters. T-I-A-R-A.

I go back to the window. He’s still out there, blabbing away. This is ridiculous. He said he needed to talk to me. It sounded serious. I wonder whether it’s about me, about us. Maybe he wants to be with me. Maybe he’s going to tell me that he regrets letting me go and wants us to try again. The last time we talked, sitting on his front step after I’d dropped the kids off at his house, he seemed wistful. “What are you thinking?” I asked him.

“Life is weird. That’s what I’m thinking.”

He didn’t have to elaborate. I knew exactly what he meant. Here we were, sitting side by side like we always did, talking about the kids, about work, about life. But we weren’t married anymore. And I wasn’t sitting on the front step of our house. This was his house.

Saturday, 6:25 p.m.
Craig is sitting across the kitchen table, slumped in a chair. His eyes are baggy, his graying hair disheveled. He rubs a hand across his stubble and looks at me. He gets up to make himself a pot of coffee. He opens the cabinet where I keep the spices and baking supplies. “Where are the mugs?”

“In the cabinet over the microwave,” I tell him.

“You moved them?”

I’m annoyed that he seems annoyed. This is my house now. I don’t tell him where to put his coffee mugs. “So. What did you want to talk about?” Here it comes. He can’t stand to be without me. I brace myself.

Craig turns to look at me. “Heather and I are back together.”

I stop breathing. “That’s great,” I force myself to say. “You must be happy.”

“I am.”

“So why do you look like crap?”

Craig tries to suppress a grin. “Didn’t get much sleep. You know how it is.”

Actually, I don’t. If I don’t get much sleep it’s because the dog kept me up
I force myself to say. “You must be happy.”
with his phlegmatic snoring, not because I’m having too much sex.

“That’s what you wanted to talk about? You and Heather getting back together?”

That’s not it, Craig tells me. He wants to know whether I can keep the kids for the next couple of weeks. He wants to take her on vacation. “So we can start fresh.”

“Sure. Whatever,” I say. I want to kick myself for thinking, even for a moment, that Craig is desperately in love with me.

Sunday 11:05 a.m.
“Hey sugar-buns.”

Leo’s on the phone. I try not to fixate on the fact that the phrase “sugar-buns” gives me the willies. Focus on what a great time you had yesterday, I tell myself.

“Leo. What’s up?”

“Much ado about nothing,” he says.

“Why do you say that?”

“No. I mean, the play. Shakespeare. Tonight. In the park. I’m thinking a blanket under the stars, maybe some Chinese takeout, a bottle of chardonnay…”

“Sounds perfect!” I say. And it does because right now what I need more than anything is an antidote to my stupidity. I need something to cancel out whatever residual humiliation I’m feeling after yesterday’s conversation with Craig. My ego needs massaging, and Leo is the man for the job, I just know it.

Sunday 6:45 p.m.
Craig stops by to pick up the kids. I’m in the driveway, wiping down the old wicker picnic basket I bought at a yard sale fifteen years ago in the hope that Craig and I might actually use it someday. We never did. Craig never liked picnics. He hates eating outdoors.

“Going on a picnic?”

“Yep. Shakespeare in the park.”

“Nice! Who are you going with?”

I suddenly realize that Craig might actually know Leo. Craig took tae kwon do for a while and so did Leo, and this is, after all, a small town.

“Leo Miller,” I say.

“Are you kidding?” Craig has visibly blanched. He’s staring at me, and he’s shaking his head.

“You know him?”

“Yes. I know all about him. Sara, I know this is none of my business. But I’m telling you, you can’t date this guy.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Trust me. You’re making a big mistake.”

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 16

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