She sits in the paisley chair and pours another finger of scotch, runs her thumb around the rim of the glass until it sings. Another night, another evening in front of the television alone.
She presses the rewind button on the old VCR remote, waiting for the tape to back up so she can restart the infinite loop of vows and toasts and rings being exchanged. The platinum she placed on his finger now sits on the table next to his photograph.
She curses the round-faced, round-bottomed, round-breasted thirty-something who took him away from her, alienating his affections one degree at a time. In the reflection of the television, she sees her own face, its once-soft curves sharpened by age.
She twists the gold band on her fourth finger in endless three-sixties while she watches the grainy image of him slip it on, all smiles and promises. The video camera zooms to his mouth, a perfect O, as he says “I do” on the screen.
She remembers the first wife rolling up behind the wheel of a white Mercedes before rolling down the window to shout obscenities at her outside the motel. That was fifteen years ago, when fifty seemed as far off as the moon.
She hears ghosts of never-ending telephone rings from the days after her wedding. In her mind, she sees him dial the number he left behind when he left the first wife, repeating flatly that he has moved on, that he feels nothing for the woman, that it is over.
She feels him come back to her on the sofa, encircling her in his arms, whispering words of love. He will never leave her; he has found his youth. They will go on. And on. And on.
She picks up the phone and turns it over in her hands. She promises herself she will not call tonight; she will break the while-do-loop of habit, knowing what he will say.
She reads the hate note the first wife sent on powder-blue stationery with the single curlicue engraved at the top. It is a sinusoidal wave of emotion—vilification, emptiness, despair. Up, down, up, down.
She writes a similar letter to the third wife, knowing it will end up in the dustbin with the rest of her unsent missives. The gold band from her fourth finger bounces off the wall when she throws it, clinking and spinning before settling to a stop on the carpet. She has tried to escape before, to fly off on a tangent from the trap of stasis and ennui. “Maybe this time,” she thinks, and leaves the ring where it lies.
She tips the bottle of scotch once more and smiles the lazy smile of the defeated. She will give wife number three a decade or so and only then will she send the letter she has rewritten in her head. “What goes around, comes around, honey baby,” she whispers to the walls, playing her finger on the rim of the glass until it sings.
Christina Dalcher writes novels and flash fiction and practices the hula hoop from her home Somewhere in the American South. She is a master of circular logic whose short work appears in Zetetic, Maudlin House, and Defenestration, among others. Find her literary-oriented ramblings atchristinadalcher.wordpress.com