"If I were going to leave you, I'd do it like this," Beth whispers as she moves Charlie’s heavy arm from her stomach.
"I'd roll out of bed, slip on my sandals, and walk out the door,” Beth says into Charlie’s ear before climbing out of bed.
Usually when she leaves, it's only for a little less than an hour. Enough time for Charlie to worry, if he ever woke up. Enough time for her side of the bed to cool off. Enough time to eat a bowl of Cheerios and watch a single I Love Lucy episode.
This is her favorite part because it feels so final. She never really knows if she’ll return to her sleeping husband until after the credits, until after the infomercials come on. Deciding to return—which she always does—is her least favorite part about leaving.
It is almost three in the morning. It is just as Beth had planned. She grabs the already packed suitcase from the closet and walks quietly to her car. She opens the driver’s side door and places the bag on the passenger seat as she climbs in. Beth puts the keys in the ignition but doesn’t start the engine. Instead, she puts the car in neutral—keeping one foot on the brake and one foot on the ground. It is more difficult to back out of the driveway in neutral than Beth had anticipated, but there are no cars parked in the street so she manages not to hit anything.
It takes her two hours to get to the cemetery. The sky is almost purple. Dawn is lurking, slowly making the world glow between the shadows of the night and the gentle dew of the morning. It is almost 5:00 AM, Charlie will be waking up soon for his morning workout. Beth thinks about him worrying, she thinks about her side of the bed being empty, her pillow being cold and vacant.