Endgame

Drew finished what was left of his whiskey before he slid his empty glass across the coffee table. Mary got up to grab it, not bothering to wait for a “thank you.” She was glad to have a reason to get up.

The last two minutes of the game always seemed to take the longest. The players would move the ball a few yards, pile on top of each other, and then do it all over again until there was no time left. Mary didn’t understand why, nor did she care to. Watching it all these years had been an obligation, not a choice.

“Mary,” Drew yelled from his chair.

“What?”

“Three-fingers worth.”

“Okay.”

Mary laid three fingers against Drew’s glass and poured whiskey until it was above her highest finger. She grabbed three ice cubes from the freezer and dropped them in, careful not to make a splash.

“Hurry. The game’s almost over,” Drew said.

“Okay.”

Mary hurried back and set his glass on the coffee table. Drew rolled his eyes because he had to move to get it. Mary pretended she didn’t notice and resumed coloring.

“Goddammit,” Drew said.

Mary looked up and saw the game was over. His team had lost by eight points.

“At least it wasn’t like last week,” she said.

“Should that make me feel better?”

“Well, I’m just saying.”

“You’re just saying what?”

Mary looked up from her coloring book and met Drew’s glare. She set it aside and said, “I’m just saying it could’ve been worse. At least they didn’t get their butts kicked.”

Drew took another sip and muttered something under his breath.

“How much was it this time?” Mary asked.

“Three thousand.”

“That’s the mortgage, Drew.”

“Yeah, no shit it’s the mortgage.”

He started flipping through the channels until he found another game. Mary didn’t know if it was one he already had a betting interest in. If he didn’t, she knew her husband would be on the phone with his “guy” any second.

Just like clockwork, he picked up the phone and made the call. Mary left the room before his bookie could answer. It’d been decades of this. Betting the little savings they had on his favorite teams; losing their son’s college fund in a poker game; putting up their cars as collateral; blowing his modest paycheck at the local dive bar.

Enough was enough.

Mary packed the few belongings she cared about in a carry-on sized suitcase: a few outfits, her great grandmother’s jewelry that had been in her family for over a century, and a picture of her and their son.

Hers and Drews’ families arranged for them to marry over forty-five years ago, and Mary had been dreaming about leaving for forty of them. She couldn’t say why, but failing to make this particular mortgage payment was the final straw. Mary zipped up her bag and stormed out of their bedroom.

When she got to the living room, she faced Drew and waited for him to notice.

“Before you go, get me one more,” Drew said.

She had so much to say, but none of it mattered. Nothing would give her back the years she wasted being his wife. All she could do was leave and hope whatever was next was better than the last half century.

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