I took the piece of wedding cake out of the freezer. Then, I put it on a plate on the kitchen table. I put it there so that I could watch it melt.
Because, my wife has left.
I light a cigarette, and another, and another. Then I open a bottle of cheap scotch. I keep my eye on the piece of wedding cake the whole time. Then, I glance at the clock on the wall.
That’s the pattern; over and over.
Here’s another part of the pattern. Before I do all that, she’d drag her suitcase out of the door, into the driveway and then into the trunk of the taxi to take her to wherever it was she went when she left. She left a lot.
I suppose I should figure why she left so much. Was it just about me? Or was it about her? Maybe it was just about us as we were together.
But, I can’t concentrate on any of that. I’m too focused on the beads of sweat forming on the sides of the icing on the piece of wedding cake. They’re like diamonds; like the rocks on a thousand wedding rings.
Looking at that melting wedding cake stops me from thinking. I guess that’s the honest truth of it.
We married young. I was doing well then. Business was booming and I was flashing money all over town. I was in a haze most of the time back then, I guess; drunk on more than just booze. I was also in love with her. That’s another thing I have to admit. She was like a shimmering form from some other world that I was trying to get to. She was it.
When we got married, we didn’t have a big ceremony, or too many of our friends around. But, we had a cake. My boy Mikey made sure of that. We cut it up and ate some of it. We saved one piece of it and I put it in the freezer as a memento of our happy day.
There it stayed.
But, like most baked goods that hang around too long, our marriage went bad.
There was drinking, and lots of it. Fights, with words, broken plates, and bruises. There was a bit of fooling around on the side on both of our parts, but nothing that really mattered. And most damning of all; the money got bad. It got thin on the ground when I lost a few important connections. When that happened, she really went to town.
She fucked Mikey. That hurt. That reached me.
But, I still stayed. And the piece of wedding cake stayed in pristine condition in the freezer. She left, and took Mikey with her. When she came back a couple of days later, Mikey didn’t come back with her. God knows what happened to him, because I never saw him again. Maybe he just skipped town, because he was a rat-shit fuck-up weakling who couldn’t face what he’d done to his best friend. Maybe she up and killed him, which wouldn’t have been beyond her.
I don’t care. Mikey was a moron, even before he fucked my wife. That might have been the dumbest thing he’d ever done; fucking my wife, that is. But, he was my friend.
She came back as if nothing had happened, as if she hadn’t gone anywhere, as if she hadn’t fucked my former best friend, and had caused no damage. She even had a smile on her face, with a heartful of love for me. That’s what she did, every time. I took her back. That’s what I did.
She cleaned out our shared account and left on Christmas Eve that year, and during a snow storm to boot. Then, she did the same thing a couple of months later, on my birthday – no snow storm that time. I took the piece of wedding cake out of the freezer both times. There it sat on the kitchen table, the clock ticking, the icing sliding slowly down onto the plate. Then, she’d come back, and I’d put the piece of wedding cake back in the freezer.
Once, she ran off with a traveling salesman. What a cliche. That lasted four days in July. You should have seen what the summer heat and no air conditioning did to that piece of wedding cake, sitting there on the kitchen table as I smoked, drank scotch, and stared.
There were a bunch of times after that. Other than my ritual with the wedding cake, I don’t remember much else about many of those other times. It became a routine every few weeks, and she always came back when it was dark. On the late nights and early mornings when she came back, we came together with a cocktail of lust and violence. But, her heartful of love for me when she came back was just a broadway show. I knew that, even then.
It happened again and again. Each time, I found myself staring at that wedding cake on a plate, sitting there on our kitchen table until I lost track of how many times I’d done it before. The piece of wedding cake looked like a sad, melted structure, like a ruined house with no moorings or foundations. That was apt, I guess. That was our marriage all over.
I still loved her.
No matter how many times she left, I loved her. And I never, ever got used to the feeling of being left, either. It hurt every time. And every time, I was less of a man, bled like a stuck pig. I took out that piece of wedding cake each time to remember how I felt before it all went wrong. Or, maybe it was to try to remember how I felt before I knew it had been wrong all along. What’s the difference, anyway?
Every time she ran away, her hold on me grew tighter. It made no sense. But, that’s the way it was. I was her prisoner. That’s it. I was doing my time, my season in hell.
I stare at the piece of wedding cake. It’s been three weeks, the longest I’ve ever watched it. When I started watching it this time around, it could barely be recognized as a piece of cake. Now, it was even less recognizable. It was just a puddle, just a memory of what it had once been.
I should just throw it out now. She’s not coming back this time.
I take the plate with the soft mess where the piece of wedding cake once proudly sat. Then, I put it back in the freezer right next to my wife.