Elizabeth sat on her couch in her favorite pair of sweats, her dark hair piled on top of her head and glasses perched on her nose. Her favorite Sunday crossword puzzle was spread out on the coffee table and she was leaning over it, elbows on her knees. She drummed absently on the table with the eraser end of her pencil, her chin in her hand as she considered possible answers for twelve across. Then, having a momentary breakthrough, she neatly wrote in her answer just as her husband padded into the living room.
"Morning," he said with a yawn as he walked past her and headed straight into the kitchen toward the coffee pot. She straightened up and reached over the crossword puzzle for her cup of hot tea, then took a sip as she turned to watch him.
"Good morning," she answered pleasantly.
Oren poured himself a mug and stirred in a teaspoon of sugar before making a beeline for his favorite overstuffed chair and sitting down. He held the mug aloft and gestured at it with his head as he reached for the sports section.
"Thanks," he said genuinely, and she nodded before he disappeared into his reading.
If he could feel her still watching him, he didn't let on, and Elizabeth could feel everything she'd been thinking about over the last few months struggle to break free. How easily they had both settled for something they didn't really want, how trapped she felt, how she could only imagine he felt the same way. She wanted to tell him how much she ached to be back in New York, to be caught up in the infectious energy of millions of different people, to do something different. She wanted to feel creative again, to experience the bite of the winter chill against her cheek, to throw a snowball. She knew they were drowning in their own complacency, both of them, and if she didn't do something about it, nobody would. She needed something to change. Today.
Elizabeth gathered her courage and leapt.
"Ren," she asked suddenly, "are you happy?"
He blinked at her over his newspaper.
"Is this a philosophical question?"
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "No," she told him patiently, "it's a serious question. Right now, are you happy? With me? With your life? If you had a second chance, would you do everything over exactly the same way?"
Looking a little perplexed, he shrugged his shoulders. "Sure," he said casually, "I have a house and a decent job and a beautiful wife. I have enough money to live comfortably on…..what more could I possibly want?"
She simply stared back, unimpressed with his answer.
Oren sighed and pinched at the bridge of his nose, then rubbed at the spot between his eyebrows as if the question was incredibly vexing. He stood and made his way over to the couch, and then dropped gracelessly onto the cushion beside her.
Turning toward him, Elizabeth folded one leg underneath her and waited while her husband studied her face for a long moment.
"I'm not," Oren softly confessed with a pained smile, "I'm sorry, Liz. I'm not." He ran a hand over his face. "My God," he wondered aloud, "what the hell happened to us?"
She smiled at him sadly. "Life, I think."
Oren nodded and tucked a stray curl behind her ear. "You really are pretty great, you know that?"
She laughed despite herself and reached out to hug him. "Thanks," she said, "and so are you. I'm sorry this didn't work out better."
"Me too," he agreed, releasing her and relaxing against the cushions behind him. He looked a little lost.
Putting on her best serious expression, Elizabeth slipped off the couch and sank to her knees in front of her husband. She took one of his hands in between both of hers and looked him in the eye, trying not to smile.
"Oren," she asked solemnly, "will you divorce me?"
He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead, then pulled back, amused.
"Elizabeth," he replied, "nothing would make me happier."