I am leaving you.
It is finally time for me to move on.
Susan is going to help me find an apartment. Maybe near the ocean. I always wanted to live by the ocean.
Carol wrote the words with the only pen left in the junk drawer. Red ink on plain white copy paper. She looked at the words and crumpled the paper. The words felt too harsh to end an almost fifty-year marriage.
“What words should I use?”
She asked the almost-empty room. The entire house was empty for the first time since he carried her over the threshold. Only a few wire hangers remained in the hall closet. She looked down at her black dress and wished she had left an iron at the house. The linen skirt was already wrinkling.
She began again in cursive red.
I am leaving you. You really shouldn’t be surprised. It’s been a long time coming.
She giggled a minute before continuing.
I bought a new black dress and am wearing my hair down like you like. I feel pretty. For the first time in a long time.
I hope you will miss me.
She hesitated before closing out the letter. They had never really exchanged sentimental letters even when he was away at war. She already missed him.
Somehow, the second attempt seemed less harsh. More worthy of fifty years.
Susan honked her horn out in front of the split-level ranch. Carol folded the letter and put in on the mantel. She turned in her new black sensible heels and walked out the front door for the last time.
She knew it was time to go. Harold’s funeral started at 2:00.