The following is a work of fiction. Any similarity to folks alive or dead is purely by chance and unintentional.

Have you ever marvelled at how salt and pepper shakers look the same in practically every greasy spoon you’ve ever visited? I’m pretty sure that the guy who invented those things is probably sitting on a pile of money as high as his house.

They sit at the end of the table, huddled against the wall with the ketchup bottle and a small folded menu. Unassuming little dispensers made of glass and stainless steel, scuffed with years of use and the abuse of falling off the table to bounce off the floor, only to be wiped on a shirt front and secretly replaced as if nothing had happened.

I glance at my watch – which reads a quarter past six – and then outside, which didn’t look anything like a quarter past six judging by the moon high in the sky. Upon closer inspection it appears that the second hand is on strike, as it refused to move from its comfortable position between three and four.

Fucking watch. Come to think of it, everything I touch seems to break. My curse, I expect.

I wonder if she has already been and gone. My wife, that is. Since the marriage counselling finished last year, we made this place our date place. Somewhere to get away from the hustle and bustle, as well as escape the children. We’ve come here every week and sat at this very table.

Our sanctuary.

The counselling had been her idea. Probably a good one, too, as we would have been splitsville if the good doctor didn’t make us confront our demons. By us I mean myself, of course.

I look around the unassuming little diner, my eyes passing the door several times. This place is located close to the outskirts of the city, which means that it is seldom full, except in the middle of summer. The lack of patrons indicates that it is not the middle of summer. Of course, the snow on the ground outside would lead you to the same conclusion.

No Beverly yet.

Odd. I thought I was late. She’s always on time – early, even.


I reach into my pocket and check my cell phone, but it seems to be participating in the same event as my watch.

The waitress passes by, rudely ignoring my presence. Mind you, I don’t really feel hungry, so I don’t say anything.

My mind drifts back to the counselling sessions.

For the longest time I thought the doctor was against me from the get-go, her being a woman and all. Birds of a feather went through my mind as I tried to use every excuse I could to escape the truth – That I was an undeserving prick.

All of the drinking and the instigation of fights drove a stake into the heart of our marriage, the doctor told us, Pulling it out is going to be just as painful, so it would be best to just have an open mind and listen, for Christ’s sake.

I made nice, just to get her off my back, and it seemed to work well enough.

But some of the words echoed in my head. Some louder than others.

I would drink on the sly to try to get rid of them. They would persist.

I feel like I’m sweating. I wipe my forehead but there is nothing there. Why do I feel so strange? Maybe it’s because of the big surprise I have for Bev when she gets here.

I was at the bar earlier today with the guys from work, and we were all making fun of our wives. It’s what we did practically every other day. I would tell Bev I was working late, and have a few with the boys. I’d arrive home in time to spend an hour with the kids and watch TV with Bev, so no harm, no foul.

But today something different happened. I don’t remember what it was that I had said about my better half, but the others seemed to be in shock. One of them told me how much of an asshole I could be. I wish I had remembered what I said. It caused the evening to end earlier than usual, sending them back home to their families.

I stayed for a bit, and it got me thinking about what I had been doing all this time. By avoiding the real work of improving myself, and instead pretending to be what she wanted me to be, I was slowly becoming more and more of what she hated.

As I walked to my car, I decided that maybe it was time that I turned things around. Since we went to counselling, things did not get worse. But I realized that there was a lot of room for improvement, and the ball was in my court. That much was abundantly clear.

The door chime jingles, and I look up and see her walking through the door.

She doesn’t even see me. Even though she looks tired, there is something angelic about her. She is beautiful. I can’t wait until I surprise her with what I have to say.

Beverly sits down across from me, and places her pale hands on the table in front of me. She looks up, and I look into her eyes.

Bevvie, I’ve been a complete shit. I want you to listen to what I have to say. I don’t care that you’ll be angry with me, because I love you, and I want us to work. I want to change. I’ve been staying late and going to the bar with the guys. I’ve said things about you in fun that I believe to be untrue. I’ve swallowed breathmints and chugged coffee so you wouldn’t smell the beer on my breath. I want to spend more time with you. I want to really love you. I hope you can forgive me.

She sits, looking through me, unblinking. No tears. No smile.

I move my hands forward to caress hers, but they don’t seem to touch.

The waitress walks up and places her hand on Bev’s shoulder, I’m sorry Bev. I probably should have told you about what he did, but I didn’t think it was my business. All of us knew, but we just didn’t have the heart…

Bev looks away from me, up at Joan, I can’t believe that he was doing that all this time, Joan. All this time he was lying, and I find out by having to identify his God-damned body. Her eyes well up, And I have to find out that he didn’t just kill his own fucking self, but two children. Two innocent children! I don’t even know why I came here, Joan. I’m sorry, I have to go.

Beverly stands up, and pushes her way past Joan, weeping uncontrollably. She leaves the building, getting into her car and driving home.

I sit here, drowning in the fear of what I have done, and never being able to apologize to anyone for it.

I begin to weep as I notice two sad-eyed children staring at me through the diner window.