BY ZACH DAVIS
As she sat in the waiting room outside the ER, waiting for the doctors to finish sewing up her husband, Charlene said to herself “I’m done.” She wasn’t sure whether or not this was true, and as was typical when she let these words slip, there was no one around but her to hear them. It was true that she had found herself saying the words with increasing frequency as of late, but she had not yet contemplated their full weight and meaning. It was strange, she thought, how they became easier to say each time, and it was also remarkable how little saying them affected her anymore.
The first time, she said it unthinkingly, and for days afterward she assured herself she hadn’t really meant it, that it had only been a slip of the tongue. This was shortly after Robert had announced — without introduction or preamble — that he would no longer be taking his medications. They left him, he’d said, feeling lifeless and dull, but during their argument, Robert had proven to be as reliably cutting and focused as he always was. After he finished elucidating his points — which left Charlene thinking of a long, didactic lecture or sermon — Robert had returned to his study. Charlene stood at the kitchen sink, turning the argument they’d just had over and over again in her mind, saying aloud the points and counterpoints that she had been unable to say at