ONCE by Yasmina Madden

In the attorney’s painfully bland office, all beiges and sailboat paintings, I am sitting here signing the papers that will finally dissolve us, papers that will end a year of rage and tantrums, like the time I plunged a knife into the hideous recliner chair his father gave us as a wedding gift, gutting those cushions like my soon-to-be-ex used to gut a deer, or the time he dug up three Evergreen trees in the middle of the night, yelling that I could take his house but not his Evergreens, or the time I threw a vase at his head and he laughed like a maniac as it shattered against the wall behind him; but what I think of as I sign the endless cascade of thick, expensive paper is how he once sliced up all the black olives from a jar and carefully placed them on the cheap delivery pizza that arrived without them, built a small set of stairs to our bed so our limpy dog, Cricket, could get in more easily, wrote and illustrated a story about Lulu and Bond (nicknames for our junk, completely disgusting, I know, but this was in the beginning when we were demented with lust), let my brother sleep on our couch for more than five months without complaint, got a perm just to make me laugh, carried me upstairs and downstairs when I broke my ankle instead of just letting me use my crutches like a normal person, wrote a song that made me sound better than I ever was, put up a tree swing in our backyard because I told him I’d always wanted one as a kid, made our bed every single day because he knew it was the household task I hated most, agreed that dogs were superior to children every time I said it even though he came from a family of seven and would have had kids in a heartbeat if I’d wanted them, gave me his undershirts to sleep in because I loved their smell, that soft worn out cotton, held me when I cried for every single day for months after my mother died, and how he had the decency to match every one of my petty tantrums during this year of divorce.



Photo used under CC.