A sad tale of lovers who cannot live together, nor without each other, complicated by the man's allure to another "woman"--the green-skirted witch on the Miller beer bottle.
Since Jerry left, Emma has written him a dozen letters, some sprayed with perfume, some sealed with lipstick kisses, some ink-splotched by tears--the kind that burn from the heart to the eyes. Unless she asked him directly, Jerry made no indication he had read a single word. And even then, he responded as if on a witness stand, with one-word answers.
Jerry's visits often seemed brief, like a casual encounters with the postman. Whenever Emma sensed his sadness, he suddenly broke out of his trance, by making hurtful comments. "I'd still be here, if you hadn't driven me away." Blaming Emma was Jerry's highway to freedom.
Jerry's affair started long before they married. Emma never suspected a thing.
"No one else ever made me feel the way you do, Emm."
"Because, Jerry, I am--you."
He surprised her with bright-colored bouquets of flowers. She untangled his arms around her, at dawn, to brew up a pot of fresh coffee, even though she wasn't a coffee-drinker. He brought her crisp cannoli, sprinkled with bright green pistachios. She smiled, envisioning him in the flower shop, trying to decide which flowers to choose. He told her when he smelled the coffee, it was like giving him a big, warm hug. She baked him walnut brownies, frosted with thick chocolate fudge.
During the last few months, when Jerry came home, he had a beer bottle in hand. "Beer-thirty came early," he joked. With beer-thirty came more excuses. Their love-making waned. Mornings became the only windows for opportunity.
The word "trust" didn't taste the same, Emma thought. She checked his pockets, the floorboard of his truck. Sadly, the signs were there, week after week. Whenever she asked him, he'd blow up. "I wouldn't have to do these things if you weren't such a bitch." He'd hole up in his workshop for hours, silently obsessed by what Emma called, "the man-eating witch."
In spite of their separation, they still made love, with steamy passion, like lovers on vacation. Emma preferred their half-broken bed, with the rickety frame Jerry repaired a dozen times. Sometimes, Emma stopped by his apartment, early, before the witch got there first.
Afterwards, when Jerry was asleep, Emma crawled out of his bed, pocketing trinkets she had given him--his silver money clip, shaped like a horseshoe, for their first anniversary; and his pocket watch with a silver dollar for a face, from their last Christmas together.
As he slept, Emma promised to return these gifts, whenever she recognized her husband again.
When Jerry awoke, still obsessed with his smiling, green-skirted witch, beer-thirty started early. He began by kissing her on the label of the frosty Miller beer bottle..
First published: August, 2004
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