Abbie and I had fought again last night. We shouldn’t have. We’d worked so hard with our marriage counselor lately that we should’ve been able to walk away before we said all the things we said.
It pained me to think how long Abbie would play silent this weekend. How long would she drift from room to room barely making any noise? Trying to pretend she wasn’t here any more.
I rolled over and saw she had left the red box on the table.
Oh, the red box. What a brilliant plan of our counselor.
We were never a couple who could handle a verbal argument, so it was suggested to us to put a note or object into the red box and leave it for the other. It was our “feeling-sharing box,” and we hardly used it for anything other than to start another fight.
I didn’t want to look in it right then.
It would probably be something sarcastic like, “take out the trash” or “today you are doing the dishes.” But it was supposed to be a note saying what was wrong, what was troubling us about the other. Like, “you don’t respect me in front of your friends” or “I get frustrated when you take too long getting ready to go out.”
We were such children, though.
Always something passive aggressive.
We had both joked about that. No matter how angry we got we knew exactly how silly our fights were. We could always laugh at them, and that’s why we were still together. Why we were still trying to make this work. Even after the verbal assaults, the embarrassing outbursts in front of family and friends, the weeks she’d go stay with her mother just to get away from me.
I thought I’d open the red box and have a laugh. Just what did I do wrong this time?
It rattled when I picked it up; there was something else inside besides a piece of paper. I wondered if she could hear me discovering her message. If she was hiding behind a door with an evil smirk, waiting to win the argument with that one last witty retort.
I opened the red box.
It was an empty orange pill bottle.
The note read: “I love you.”
That was the problem.