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  • Kim Idol


Andy’s first ex-husband called just before sundown which was not unusual, they talked often. She’d been sitting out in the backyard enjoying the twilight, the stirring of the birds and the bees in her back yard, while considering filling out an application for a teaching job in Botswana.

“I bought the engagement ring,” he said quietly and softly, slipping the announcement in between other parts of the conversation. “Becca and I have lived together for a year now, and we haven’t driven each other crazy, and we laugh.”

The ex and Becca had been together for years, so it was not an unprecedented step, and Andy was not losing anything. She her ex were solid. She didn’t want to marry him again. She was not in love with him. They were friends, family really. And she wouldn’t have stopped him from marrying Becca if she could.

Andy had kept the ring her ex given her until a pair of teenagers had stolen it. He had had it engraved. She remembered wearing it and thinking she was living in a dream every time she twirled it about her finger and knew someone had picked that ring just for her. He had attached it to a piece of climbing gear she’d had to retrieve during a climb. Cached inside a velvet bag, it was nestled along with a note that read, “Marry me?” A storm had been rolling toward them, thunder, and clouds, etc., and they needed to move up and off the high granite peak quickly, but still she took the time to read the note, looked up, and saw him peering down at her.

She remembered telling her mother, who’d insisted on paying for the wedding, that even if the marriage didn’t work out, taking that leap of faith would be worth the risk.

She stared at her yard. It had been a hot summer. In the afternoons and the early mornings as the temperature dropped, the birds became loud and buzzed about the sky and jumped from tree to tree as active and alive presences. A couple of small red birds a little bigger than hummingbirds were bopping from branch to branch in her back yard. They distracted her from her thoughts only for a moment because her memories of marriage were too compelling.

This would be her ex’s fourth marriage. He had married a dippy girl after they had divorced, a mistake, but not one anyone could stop.

“I hope it works out,” was all she had said, choosing brevity.

Wife number three left him during the honeymoon, which was a whole other story. He had a thing for women seeking Prince Charming and often that type of girl ran from reality.

When he told her about the ring this time, again, Andy wished him and Becca all the luck in the world.

That said, her initial interior reaction to the news was, “Fuck you.”

It had been a long while since she and her ex had been married. She had needed a partner, not a savior and after seven years of marriage to her, once he realized that he didn’t want to be who she needed and that he didn’t want her, he left. Then they engineered a civilized divorced. No one wanted a scene. But it was hard to remember how little he had done for her and for their marriage and not resent how much he was willing to invest in this girl.

She could now see bees swarming in her West African Sumacs. Since bees were dying out, she was happy to see them flourish in her back yard.

She did well enough alone. She could take care of herself and her loved ones. She had friends, goals, adventures, and a body of hard-won self-knowledge, none of which she would relinquish for a relationship. But she sought a teammate, someone willing to relish the good and work through the bad, and she remembered what it felt like to know that her mate would rather find someone else than work anything out with her. An image of her lost engagement ring kept resurrecting itself in her head and the way she had kept twirling it.

She remembered how many times since that first marriage that she had tried to find the partner she wanted by dipping into a pool of poorly formed men who could never give her what she wanted and had not wanted to try. In fact, they had been angered by her expectations.

For Andy’s part, she was enraged at herself for engaging in her failed attempts at partnership. She had tried to fuel fantasies of being in relationships that were workable by focusing on the small mercies each man had sparingly offered in between constant episodes of friction and heartache.

Someone cleaned a dish once or twice, someone bought some flowers, someone took her to Flagstaff for a winter weekend after which she kidded herself that the efforts were signs that relationships that had never been healthy, were on the mend. When they failed she felt abandoned and invisible.

These days Andy felt ignored on many fronts, professionally and personally, and she was tired of trying to make sense of her sad state and of trying to ride it out. The lack of a relationship was not all, but she didn’t need a reminder that it was working out for someone else.

It had been a down day, and her bad mood had not started with the phone call; the call had just added to an existing pile of self-loathing. Nurturing it was a habit she needed to break.

The birds and the bees kept at it in her yard. She looked at the application again and picked up a pen preferring to fill the form out by hand.

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