Lemonade

by Soniya Shah

You know, I am falling to pieces. Remember when I broke the mirror my mother gave me and it smashed into little glittering bits all over the dining table? That is me. Except I am not a beautiful, silvery sliver. I am dull and cracked, broken in like an old pair of jeans. You know, he says he cannot even look at me. I know he is ashamed of me. It is my fault.

He spends his days in your room, breathing in the warm scents of lavender and baby lotion. He says he dreams in blue, the soft color of your eyes, a ripe berry just asking to be eaten. I try to talk but I can tell he hears nothing I say. I try to explain, try to justify and then when I look back, he is gone.

He got drunk one night from the wine we drank on our wedding night. He told me when he gets that far away look in his eyes, he is with you. I asked what it was like. He said it was like the first rainfall after the drought. The world is clear again and it smells fresh and you feel like dancing. He took you dancing in the rain, once. He let you watch the lightning as it hit in sparks and let you hear the thunder in its terrifying beauty, sort of like a shark.

I wish I could get away from here and be with you. I write you letters, you know. I tell you about our life and what is happening. It is not much. I go to work and he lives in a place I cannot understand. This is someone else’s life.

Did you know we met in a ritzy hotel? He cornered me in an elevator and told me I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. I bet he has not thought about that night since this happened. He remembers your high-pitched laughter, and pink fingernails and watermelon slices on Sunday mornings. I remember those things too.

He is still silent. I wish he would forgive me and go back to the days when he kissed me in the pouring rain, just like in the movies. Life was a fairytale. We had everything. You remember Disney World, don’t you? We met all the princesses and their princes and you spilled chocolate ice cream on a purple romper. I washed it.

We live together and he says nothing. Before, I could never get him to shut up. It was a constant stream of stories and tales and bullshit spun from some fragment of the truth. I am good at forgetting when I want to. But his memory must haunt him from all angles. He took off his wedding ring and left it on the bathroom counter, right next to his toothbrush. Maybe that is a sign. He proposed when we were watching Cinderella. Maybe I am not the girl with the glass slipper.

Sometimes he talks in his sleep. He says things about tiny diamond earrings and silky black hair. He thinks I cannot hear him. I think more than he does. I have more to remember from the nights when it was just me and you. I remember your ferocious little kicks, watching your tiny heartbeat. For a little while, I had you all to myself.

We comforted each other after your loss. He made red velvet cupcakes and I made margaritas that were too strong and we used to hide behind our food and alcohol. He used to hold me tight when we slept and asked me to never leave. But, now all he can think about is trips to the police station. I was the one who gave them your photograph. He wrote down a description and drove away from the house to talk to the police when all I could do was scream. I had to tell them about the black car that drove away and left us with emptiness. I think he is leaving.

There are suitcases. We took those with us on our honeymoon to South America. We took them on our trip to Europe and we took them to the hospital when you were born. Memories live in those suitcases, in between smells of sunscreen and grains of sand. He used to sing in the shower, songs of love and romance and wild nights. He used to sing about his lovely wife, his adorable daughter. And now it is only the daughter he thinks of. The olive skin, the button nose, the fearless attitude. There was a joy in a daughter.

We got granite counters in the kitchen two years ago. He said it was classy and elegant. Now, there is a red post-it note on those counters: a note from him. He talks about nothing, says nothing of purpose. Should I take meaning from this? I can’t help but think of our first anniversary in the very same hotel where it all started. He writes about the cloudless sky the day we lost you and the sounds of your screams as you ran through the sprinkler. There is no explanation, not even an apology.

I know he has his phone with him. Apparently he cannot answer my phone calls, respond to my desperate messages. I am driving down the road alone, filled with memories of hidden smiles and teasing kisses. My heart is drenched in sorrow. You will both be on my mind for quite some time. He said something before he left about glasses of lemonade.

I finally got a letter. He is in the military now. Maybe is finally escaping from me, the monster who created this mess. I hope he remembers the look in my eyes when we discovered the truth.

You know he is gone. He’s with you. I’m sure he thinks of me now because he can. I am sure he remembers that I left you alone, long enough for the worst to happen. I know he knows I left you for a glass of lemonade.

  

Soniya Shah is currently an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University studying technical writing and pre-med.  She hopes to write for medical journals one day.  She is an avid reader and loves traveling.

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