By Margaret Cummings
I ignored the signs since I was old enough to realize that they were there. I ignored them because it hurt too much to see them and acknowledge that they were important. I pretended that the long drives home from school were because you liked driving and talking to me about life, not because you dreaded going home. I pretended the extended stays at grandma’s house were because you missed and loved your mom not because you couldn’t stand to be in the same house as mine. I pretended for so long, that I could justify almost any long silence or fight in the house because it felt normal and, moreover, healthy. It wasn’t, but I also couldn’t remember a time where it wasn’t there. I pretended, until one day it hit like a ton of bricks as I leaned over to hug you goodbye and my eyes wandered to your phone where there, staring me in the face was a message from another woman professing her childish love for you. A few words and a big red heart emoticon were displayed across the phone screen. I left hoping to shake the imprint of the text from my mind but it stayed there, and it was time to stop pretending. The period where you and mom didn’t talk grew to a deafening silence. The road trips went on forever while you talked happily to me just to get home and plug into the TV while the rest of us laughed and talked without you. When I come home it feels empty like home was diagnosed with the cancer of never letting go. The only time the silence is broken is when one of you talks to me or the puppies. Barely sleeping in the same room, barely able to look at each other, like 20 years or marriage doesn’t matter, and wedding rings are just metal bands that once were secured tightly on your fingers, now left to rest in the bottom of your nightstand drawers on separate sides of a bedroom that feels like separate sides of the world.