“Notes on a Marriage” by Karen Eileen Sikola
They met in the rotunda. I could not exactly picture it, because he only wrote it on a postcard that provided insufficient space for description. But I knew that they met, and I knew both she and the weather were lovely.
“She’s married,” he wrote later, on an index card. He drew a single black line down the center of it—separating the words from my name and address—and slapped a stamp in the corner. When it arrived, I secured it to the freezer with a magnet, so I could read it at eye level. Sometimes I’d spend full mornings staring at it while eating my cereal. Other times, I couldn’t be near it. I’d find myself craving ice cream, but turning back at the sight of his scribble, fading each day from the light which crept through the bay window.
“I’m married,” I said, in a whisper, as if maybe he wouldn’t hear, as if the saying it was enough to relieve me of any dishonesty, as if the words alone could allow us to continue our meetings in the rotunda. His right hand inched over, his pinky stretched out to graze the culprit knuckle. “Tea?” he said.
“She’s married,” I wrote. It seemed simple enough. Two words. Three, if I allowed myself a breath. A pause. I shoved the note into an envelope I found wedged between my desk and a set of drawers I so rarely open. It was a stray, the kind for greeting cards, too wide to be taken seriously, too transparent to conceal the message. I took it out.
The stamp sat crooked up in the corner, one ridged edge overlapping the side just enough to stick to something else. I placed it in the post office box, hoping that as it fell to the mail below, it would attach itself to the metal lining, that its ultimate delivery would depend on the hands of someone reaching in to grab it, or something heavier crashing down to set it free.
Karen Eileen Sikola holds an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction and a self-issued certificate in perfecting the grilled cheese sandwich. Her writing has appeared in several online literary journals, including Front Porch, Monkeybicycle, and fwriction : review. She conducts the lit-blog TrainWrite and lives in Boston with her dog, Rilo.