46 years later

She’s so beautiful honestly. Not just me, her obsessed husband speaking, she was (and still is) truly beautiful, a bona fide beauty queen and all that, and smart too, a mathematics major, and personable and popular…”


by michael estabrook



I’m with her (my wife) and her best friend (also my friend) from high school, 46 years later, and for some reason, some strange reason, I’m reminded what a complete idiot and loser I am, but why?

We’re staying at our friend’s house, with her and her latest male friend, her newest boyfriend. She’s had 3 marriages (one divorce and 2 deaths) and numerous boyfriends, lovers, and companions over the years. Whereas my wife, in spite of her friend’s frequent pleading and prodding, has had only me! (Yikes!)

So what’s wrong with my wife that she’s only had me? That she’s only had one serious relationship her whole life, that she’s only had me? I don’t know. But at times they (Patti and Linda) seem to be watching me closely, carefully, out of the corners of their eyes.

They did go to the same college together, too. (Did I mention that?) And I did stumble into a blind date my wife was having. (I showed up unexpectedly, caught her red-handed, so to speak, in the midst of this secret blind date of hers.) But this was her only one, honest, “I’ve never lied to you.” So why does this feel so, so . . . I don’t know what to think sometimes.

She’s so beautiful honestly. Not just me, her obsessed husband speaking, she was (and still is) truly beautiful, a bona fide beauty queen and all that, and smart too, a mathematics major, and personable and popular, in all the best clubs, even had the leading role in our Senior Class Play, and is a Facebook friend to this day, with Everett, her romantic counterpart.

What am I doing with this beautiful woman? Is it a sham? My whole life really, a sham? Who the hell am I to be the husband, to be the one responsible for protecting and providing for this superlative woman: holding her hand, kissing her, touching her feet and legs, opening doors for her, calling her on the phone? Me! What? How dare I touch her sacred flesh with even the tip of my useless little finger. How dare I! May God strike me dead with a bolt of lightning for daring to breathe the same air that this goddess breathes.

I’m a nobody, honestly and truly, a nobody. She should’ve dumped me at the get-go (I suspect she too recognizes this fact). I’m not at all like the Everetts of the world, the golden boys: tall, handsome, honor’s student, class president, football hero . . .

We’re always in High School, I’ve decided. We never truly escape, stuck forever roaming the hallways of buildings 7 and 5, the auditorium, the cafeteria, the gym, avoiding the hoods, trying to prevent the cool guys and the smart guys and the jocks and the guys with cars from getting their hands, their dirty, fucking, grubby hands on our girls – forever.

I had a nightmare last night. I hope it doesn’t repeat again tonight. I’m in a small room, like this room I’m sleeping in in real life, alone without my wife, who’s sleeping in a separate room because the beds aren’t right – too small or lumpy or something. But she’s in her best friend from high school’s house so it’s all right, anything goes.

I don’t really count, she smirks at me from the corner of her eye, as she kisses me good-night, goes off to sleep in another room in the house. And I take it lying down (so to speak) because I am a fucking loser.

Anyway, back to my nightmare – I’m in a small, dark room, alone, just as I am in this small, dark room, my wife off in another room. Things are moving all around me, on the walls and in the spaces all around me, dark misshapen monsters, gaunt and stringy with big shiny teeth and bulging eyes, waiting for me to go to sleep, moving silently, silent as shadows all around the room, biting silently, snapping and staring – at me, wanting to get me, get their teeth and claws into me, to keep me separated from her, they’ve been at it for a long, long time, since the beginning when I asked her to be mine and in a moment of weakness and confusion she said yes. Well yes, they are still at it, trying their hardest to get me away from her, to get me separated from her, which is – let’s face it – where I belong anyway. I mean, seriously, how did I ever manage to get and hold her in the first place? How? To this day I don’t understand it. Me! Getting her, getting Patti for my very own! My friends are still agog, and it has been 47 years! HA!

Look at her, my God, just look at her! How can you not look at her? I’ve been looking at her for 47 years and still cannot get enough. But anyway – “You Can’t Take It With You” was the play she starred in with hunky Everett and man-oh-man, is that title ever correct. She was out there on the stage kissing and being pawed by good old Everett for all the world to witness and see and there wasn’t anything, not one damn thing I could do about it – not then and not now either, if truth be told.

Originally published:
Issue Sixty-Five
January 2013



Seems I’ve been writing poetry for so long that Methuselah should be taking notice, but in reality, time is simply doing its thing streaking ahead blithely pulling all of us along for the wild ride whether we like it or not; reminds me, I’ve published 15 chapbooks over the years, the last one being “when Patti would fall asleep” by Liquid Paper Press in 2003, guess it’s time to work on another one. — Michael Estabrook. More stories from Mike Estabrook can be found in the Vault of Smoke.


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