The earliest pneumatic tires were made for a bike. Father-invented so his son wouldn’t get headaches peddling over rough roads. A little rubber, air, and elbow grease and he sent his son off down the street, feeling a more secure man. A father also invented training wheels, but for a different reason. This creation had more to do with future paths than current terrain. More a case of nurturing a soul than aiding a hurting body. Sadly, little boys turn into men and no father has been able to invent any part of a wheel that prevents a son’s heart from being skidded upon.
I get buffer with the deterioration of my marriage. Swelling pecs and ballooning biceps and I’m almost fit for divorce. I never intended to become a bulked-up, more stoic version of myself; I hit the gym so much because I hate my homelife. Though I do adore the flat screen. We sit in the living room, don’t make eye contact, and never move our mouths. The clanking of the plates rivals the secrecy of our house. I lie on my back and grip the bar, determined to press it down onto my chest and back up again, no matter how heavy the weight, no matter how deep the burn. Neither of us is willing to start a simple dialogue. Most of the people at the gym work out alone and I can’t help but speculate on the status of their marriage, or if they are bachelors content with maintaining a solid core. What has become an excuse to strengthen my body has become therapy. What has become a simple post-dinner routine has become a blazon rendezvous. I take off my shirt and talk to the mirror, convincing myself I must pack on more muscle, believing any dead weight in my life will soon be lifted.
I google Us and there is nothing. I ignore the search results and give our future the benefit of the doubt. We tell ourselves this will be a pretty divorce. “It will be the prettiest divorce on the block!” Shiny and cordial, a newly shared custody of our past. The kids are still dealing with the shock. The fact that their parents are now only friends is unfathomable. I will never confide to them that it was never anything more than that. I won’t tell her, either. Nor will I ever mention anything about convenience. I sign the papers as we officially say goodbye as husband and wife and proclaim, “Here’s to our new lives.” She smiles and replies, “This will be something to look forward to.” I google something and the first results are borrowed, awful, and wicked comes this way. I want to hug her but I resist the urge because I don’t know whether to squeeze her like it will be the last time, or hold her like it was the first.
Daniel Romo lives and writes in Long Beach, CA. He’s the author of When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). He teaches creative writing and is the Head Poetry Editor for Cease, Cows. More at danielromo.net.