For years, Tom felt Grace tuned out each time he spoke. She'd listen and nod her head, but by the next day, she'd have forgotten everything he had said. There were the big things, the decisions every couple makes, such as what needs added to the grocery list, and week after week, Grace always forgot many of the items he casually mentioned during morning breakfast or their evening dinners.
More recently, he has been picking up mood swings in his wife. And he knows the kids are picking up on these changes. There'd be sly exchanges of recognition that this wasn't their mother, nor his wife.
And this morning, after she yet again battered away his advances, he could see her mind was elsewhere. She always sat at the counter with her coffee steaming, its aroma straight up as she mindlessly tapped with her fingernails on the mug. She'd flick through the morning's paper as if she were searching for some clue, some cryptic sign that her life could have turned out differently, that this wasn't actually her life. Not her kids, not her mortgage, and certainly not her husband.
The twelve-year-old was telling a story of excitement about today's excursion to the natural history museum when Grace stood up and walked out of the kitchen. Gus stopped mid-sentence about some dinosaur and watched the space left by his mother.
The front door opened, then closed.
They waited, breaths held, waiting to hear her car's engine. They waited for what seemed enough time for the dinosaurs to return to life and heard nothing. It was as if she had never been.