Little Miss Perfect
By M.E. Carter
“I… I don’t understand.”
Rick grabs an armful of socks and underwear from the drawer of our heavy oak dresser that has been passed down through five generations of Miller women. It’s been sanded and re-stained a time or two, making it impossible to tell that it’s over a hundred years old. The solidness of the wood is obvious when Rick slams the door shut, making a bang that echoes through the room.
“What’s not to understand?” Tossing the clothes into a suitcase, he refuses to make eye contact with me. It’s been that way since he started packing. I’m not really sure if the lack of eye contact is indicative of guilt or because he’s revolted by me. “Our marriage is over. I’m leaving you. The end.”
He keeps saying those words, but none of it makes sense. “But why? Is it something I did?”
He snorts an unattractive laugh, which is unlike my very proper husband. A deep chuckle or
even a chortle is more his personality. Maybe a haughty laugh. But nothing about this situation even remotely resembles normal behavior for the quiet, placid man I married. “Something you did?” He sounds condescending, but I’m still not clear why. “It’s a lot of things you did. And a lot of things you didn’t do. I can’t take living with your neuroses anymore.”
I actually know what he’s talking about. He wouldn’t be the first person to call me neurotic.
Tight-wad. Uppity. OCD. I’ve been called all of them. None of which is true, at least in the
clinical sense. I just like order and lists that can be checked off. Things run like a well-oiled
machine when there is a plan that can be adhered to.
Speaking of well-oiled machine, I need to take the SUV in for its three-thousand-mile
That can wait. The situation at hand is more important, and figuring out what my husband is so angry about is priority because I’m very confused right now. Rick has never complained about how organized I am before. I thought he appreciated how smoothly our home runs. I’m very quickly finding out I’m wrong, but he’s not giving me the answers I need.
“What are you talking about?”
He looks up at the ceiling, seemingly exhausted by my lack of understanding. But really, does he blame me? Up until ten minutes ago, I thought we had the perfect life. The perfect marriage.
Rick is a junior partner at Watson and Sons law firm. He’s not a “son” but had an impressive
internship, and he was hired over a dozen other final applicants eight years ago. He’s on track to become a senior partner at some point, but a few Watsons probably need to retire before that happens.
His generous salary has allowed me to stay home with our son, Trevor, who is arguably the
most perfect six-year-old in the world. He’s sweet, kind to others, smart, and loves to read. He’s every mother’s dream for a child and has given me another purpose in my life beyond taking care of my husband.
The three of us live in a wonderful four-bedroom home in one of the more affluent
neighborhoods in town. We eat healthy, attend church weekly, and make sure Christmas cards are sent out by December tenth every year. We donate to the ASPCA as well as various local programs for children.
Together, we make a picture-perfect family that the Jones’s would be proud of. Which is why this news is so hard to understand.
Finally making eye contact, Rick gives me a look I’ve never seen before. It’s… exasperation. Or maybe frustration. I can’t tell. But for the first time since he started packing, I’m starting to think this isn’t a bluff. “I can’t live in a house that is as spotless as a museum, Deborah. You know how stressful it is to be afraid to track dirt into my own home?”
Blinking rapidly, I try to wrap my thoughts around what he’s saying, hoping to figure out a way to fix this. “So, you want more dirt in the house?”
He huffs. “It’s not about the amount of dirt, Deb. It’s about the amount of effort. There is no
relaxing around here. No being real. You know I haven’t seen your face without makeup on
ever? Not once. Not even since we’ve been married.”
My hand comes to my face. Of course he’s never seen me without makeup. Uncovered, he’d
see the blemishes I painstakingly conceal every day. Thick, full hair was gifted to me by my
mother’s genes. Flawless skin was not.
“So you’re leaving because of my makeup?”
“You’re not understanding me.” He slams another drawer after emptying all the crisp, white T-shirts and dumping them into another suitcase. His lack of care means they’re going to be
wrinkled, and I’m beginning to think he deserves it. “It’s the rules and guidelines and
regulations. We can’t have sex with the lights on, or God forbid I see you naked. I can’t use the bathroom if you’re in there painting on your, whatever this is,” he says in an ugly tone,
gesturing to his face. “I didn’t want a plastic Barbie doll for a wife.”
I skip over the nonsense he’s spouting at me. Rules, regulations, and order are what keep this house flowing smoothly, but he clearly isn’t understanding that. Maybe he’ll understand more direct logic and consequences of a situation like this. “But what about the house? We have a lot of equity built up. It would be unwise to sell it in a buyer’s market.”
“Keep it.” He zips up the small suitcase, places it on the floor, and pulls the handle. “My
girlfriend and I already signed a lease on a beachfront property.”
I gasp. “Girlfriend? You have a girlfriend? Have you been sleeping with her and me at the same time? Do you know how many diseases we could all be at risk for now?”
He rolls his eyes, clearly not caring about the horrific position he’s put me in. “I’m not discussing this with you. I’ll draw up the divorce paperwork tomorrow and have you served within the week so we can get this process started. In the meantime, I’ll pick Trevor up on Thursday night for dinner. I’m sure you’ll never let him visit my house since it’ll probably have sand on the floor sometimes.”
I watch him stalk out of the room, sure he’s going to turn around and say he’s changed his
Any minute now.
The door slams and still, I wait.
And then it hits me—Rick is gone. He’s really left me, left our family, left our life for some other woman who probably doesn’t even know she needs to be checked for diseases now. I’d feel bad for her, but instead I find myself wondering what I should do.
What does this mean? I never planned on being a divorcée. I don’t know what all that involves. Do I need to stock up on box wine and guacamole? Do I need to find a Bunco night?
Elena would know. Her husband left her because she wasn’t good enough for him too. But then she ended up getting a job and meeting Greg, her daughter’s gymnastics coach. Now they’re married and have a happy life, so she knows how to handle things like a husband leaving unexpectedly. She’ll be able to tell me what to do.
Checking the clock, I calculate the amount of time I have until I need to pick Trevor up from
school. Thankfully, Rick decided to leave me in the middle of the day which doesn’t throw off our schedule too much.
Two hours and four minutes until school pickup. Good. That gives me enough time to sort some of this out. Although I’ll have to push off vacuuming the wooden blinds until tomorrow…
No matter. This is more important.
Climbing into my clean white Subaru that was detailed at Pirate’s Booty Car Wash yesterday, I check the air freshener to make sure it’s still working to its maximum capabilities. Then I drive exactly four miles over the speed limit to Elena’s house. Fast enough to get me there quicker, but not fast enough that the ticket would be worth a police officer’s time to pull me over.
It just takes a few minutes to get to her neighborhood. Turn onto the main road and cross the railroad tracks by looking left, then right, then left again, all while ignoring the honks behind me.
Pulling up in front of her house, I realize there are no cars in the driveway. That’s weird. Elena doesn’t work outside the home either. I’m not sure what exactly she does all day since her baseboards could use a good wipe down. But that’s neither here nor there. Maybe her car is in the shop.
Oh please, let her car be in the shop. I’ve stayed very calm and collected for the last however long, but I have under two hours to come up with a plan for my new single life, and we’ll need every minute to get it all straightened out.
Carefully walking up the sidewalk, I knock on the door and wait.
When no one answers, I knock again and wait.
Still no answer so I knock again and wait.
Panic begins to set in. She’s not home. Elena’s the only one who will know what to do, and
she’s not home. Turning to lean against the door that could use a good power wash, I realize how shattered my life really is.
For the first time since I can remember, I have no husband, no plan for the foreseeable future,and no idea how dirty the back of my shirt is getting.
What am I going to do?