This Sentence That Summer
Jon Morgan Davies

That summer, after you took the house and the furniture and I took my grandmother’s century-old rocking chair and a few scattered Supertramp records and other seventies tunes that you’d never cared for, holdovers from the tail end of those three decades before our two-decade-long marriage; after you started seeing Darwin–no, after you admitted you started seeing Darwin; after I moved into the backyard-facing side of the rental duplex we once owned together, moved in next to Rachael, the twenty-five-year-old history graduate student you called “nice” the one time you visited, mostly to sign the papers; after I ate Rachael’s dinners three or four nights a week for all four months I call that summer, Rachael being a better cook than you ever were, trained well by her mother in the arts of Italian pasta and German sausage, though I never minded your TV dinners; after I met each one of Rachael’s friends, cried with them, laughed with them, talked with them about the usual problems at the tire store and about you and about the house I wanted back, mostly because of the swimming pool, and about the boyfriends and the girlfriends that each of her friends wanted for themselves, their plans for after college, their teaching, their esoteric dissertations; after I drank with Rachael and her friends, drank without Rachael and her friends, drank almost every night, drank Shiner Bock beers and red wine from southern Texas but mostly Crown Royal whiskys and Coke; after I collected the bags in which the Crown Royals came until I had thirty-eight, until I had so many that when Rachael’s friend Jason and I hung them on the porch near the end of that summer, it took nearly an hour to nail all of them in, that summer in which Jason started seeing a Romanian statistics student, a fine, fine-looking woman with long stringy brown hair that rolled in half-worn-away curls down to the middle of her back, that hair ending just before her back arched into those beautiful buttocks that I liked to watch walk away from Rachael’s side of the house when Jason wasn’t there, liked to watch thinking of you, ten years younger, swimming in that pool in our backyard and me on the deck with a glass of wine just watching and watching, admiring you for the way you managed to stay so fit after the pregnancy, that botched pregnancy that we never talked about, never let come between us or perhaps did by our not talking, by our deciding then not to have children, not to even try again, even though we never discussed it, just as Jason and I didn’t discuss anything that evening when we hung the Crown Royal bags, that silence hanging the bags strange because the occasion was a party and the event was supposed to be happy and we were not talking, as if this were a funeral instead of a letting go, though after hanging the bags I did begin again to notice women closer to my own age, women I could date, such as Lynn across the street, a thirty-eight-year-old divorcee, who I asked out one evening after Rachael’s spaghetti and a glass of wine, Lynn being the woman I spotted as Rachael, Jason, and I sat on the front porch after that meal, spotted checking the left front tire of her car because it was low though not entirely flat, a tire I knew how to fix and had the equipment with which to do it, which, when I did, made Lynn’s face light up like yours used to when we’d meet again at the end of each day after our respective jobs, only that her eyes were blue instead of gray, a bright blue that clung to my thoughts for many days afterward; after I’d told Lynn I wasn’t trying to be creepy but that I’d like her to come over and have drinks sometime, perhaps right then, with me and my friends, my young twenty-something-year-old friends from the duplex next door, even though we didn’t know her and she didn’t know us; after she’d said she couldn’t, not that night, and then, a few days later when I asked another time, as she came out to get into her car, said she couldn’t again, that she was still getting over her own divorce, and me, not being creepy, never asked again; after I heard that Darwin was living with you at the house–our house; after I took Marti for drinks after work the day that I heard that, Marti the assistant I’d worked with for six-something years, Marti with the red hair and the dimpled cheeks and the round face and a body not so bad once the clothes are off, Marti who that happy hour talked with me about her ex-husband and the two kids, all of whom she’d lost in a car accident a decade before, a car accident that happened while she was traveling to Washington, D.C., for an accounting convention, Marti who started drinking with me somewhat regularly after work after that, who started coming to the duplex, who sometimes joined Rachael and Jason and me and Rachael’s other friends for dinner, Marti who sometimes hung out afterward with just me, who showed me I didn’t have to be alone for the rest of my life, that there was quite possibly love after you, Marti who one night I finally kissed, who kissed me back, who I made out with, who made out with me; after four months wishing you would return, wishing this separation weren’t final; after I sat down with a Crown Royal and Coke in my grandmother’s rocking chair in my living room with the stereo blasting Supertramp; after that first night Marti and I first kissed, I came to understand, despite all that she had come to mean to me, despite all the things all the other people I’d come to know had come to mean to me, that I would never not be alone again, never not be lonely, never stop wishing for you, and that this sentence that was my summer would last for the rest of my life.

Jon Morgan Davies is a native of California currently residing in Georgia. His work has appeared in such publications as Adirondack Review, Cutbank, and Summerset Review.

Photograph by Keith Moul