Variation

They’d been doing together since they were wed forty-two years ago. “Everything that we can do together, I mean, of course.” She felt some things weren’t possible, “But we tried to do everything together. We were never apart from one another for more than a day or two, maybe three, tops.” She’d been a nurse, but was now retired; he’d been, and was, a doctor.

Travel was required for her to visit her father. “Dad’s really well for ninety-three. It’s easy to forget he’s ninety-three because he looks so good and does so well. But he is ninety-three, so I worry about him. Especially since he’s down there and I’m up here. He’s a retired engineer, and very particular about his habits. Everything must be done certain ways. He eats the same foods for the same meals at the same times every day,  breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s no variation.”

But this was about her husband. “He didn’t want to go with me to Southern California. Dad always watches Fox News. He’s completely apolitical, he’s not a Trump supporter, doesn’t have a MAGA hat, or anything like that, but he watches Fox News all day long. Henry just didn’t want to go, and cited that as part of the reason. So I flew down there alone.

“I’d been down there for a week when I received a phone call from Henry. He was frantic.”

“I’m out of clean underwear,” he said.

“Well, wash some.”

“I would, but I don’t know where the detergent goes.”

“It goes in the drawer.”

“I can’t find the drawer.”

“When I thought about it, I realized that it was the longest that we’d ever been apart.”

When she returned, she discovered his clothes in the washer. They were moldy, wrinkled and almost dry. She thinks that Henry just tossed the soap on top of the clothes, wasn’t satisfied with the process, and just quit.

They haven’t spoken about it, yet, but he does have some new underwear.

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