A Morning Conversation by Martin Green
I cant believe he did that, said my wife Eleanor.
"Neither can I.
We were talking about what had happened with our next-door neighbors, Mary and Jack Robbins. Wed been scheduled to go out to dinner with them the night before. Mary had called Eleanor in the morning with the news that Jack had left her. He said hed fallen in love with another woman, a fellow teacher at his college. Mary had gathered that the fellow teacher was younger, possibly much younger. Eleanor had of course immediately gone over to see Mary. When she came back, she reported that Mary was in shock and couldnt stop crying.
What Jack had done was hard to believe but I couldnt help thinking that Mary had put on a lot of weight in the last few years. For that matter, Eleanor had spread out herself, but not nearly as much. A younger woman. I pictured her as slim and pretty.
Hes destroyed his family, said Eleanor.
The Robbins had two children, a boy and a girl, just as we did. Although Mary and Jack were about the same age as we were, theyd married earlier so their children were older, the son in college and the daughter a high school senior. I wouldnt have said that Jack had destroyed his family; the kids were old enough to adjust. Still, he hadnt done them any good.
Whats Mary going to do?
She doesnt know. Theyll get a divorce eventually, I suppose. He left his wife and kids and for what? A fling with some floozie.
Shes a college teacher, I said.
That doesnt matter. Shes a floozie to have gone after Jack. Look at how old he is.
Hes the same age as I am. And hes in much better shape. All that tennis.
Yes, I wish youd exercise more.
It was after breakfast. Wed moved to the patio with our coffees. I looked at the back lawn. It needed mowing. The shrubs needed pruning, also. And the gutters needed cleaning out before the next rain. I get enough exercise around here. Where are the kids?
Playing outside somewhere. Dont forget, we have two soccer games tomorrow.
Yes. Dont you remember, Kyle had a rainout.
Hes a rat. I assumed she was referring to Jack, not to Kyle. Its probably a middle-aged crisis thing. I hope youre not going to have one.
I didnt reply to this.
I hope she takes him for all he has.
Hes a college professor; he cant have that much.
Well, at least shell have the house. I still dont know how he could have done it. Ill call her later. She stood up. Are you through with your coffee?
She took the cups back to the kitchen and I could hear water running in the sink. Eleanor didnt like dirty dishes laying around. Well, Id better get to the days work. I stood up. I understood that Jack had done, what to a woman like Eleanor, seemed an incomprehensible thing. A middle-aged guy throwing away his wife and family. But maybe the thrill of having an affair had been enough for Jack. She was young and new and now hed have a new life, leaving behind the suburban life, the kids, the chores, the boring routine of things. I would never do what Jack had done. For one thing, I imagined that that the new life would soon become as routine as the old one. Still, I had had my thoughts. I went into the garage and got out the lawn mower.
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