Meal Time

*Saito*

I don’t believe in divorce. Only if a marriage is really dangerous. With that said, my own marriage is not great.

Misato and I have been separated for two years. We got married in ’98. Our daughter was born in ’02. It started to weaken at the end of ’99. Or was it earlier? I cannot recall.

We don’t live together anymore. She has the house and I live in a small apartment in the city. However, it’s not over so easily.

Every evening, I go to her house and have dinner. I pulled up in the driveway for the nightly meal. Misato waited at the front door for me. We never speak at first. I shook my head at her.

“You don’t have to wait up for me,” I informed her.

“I know,” she said.

“Then why do it?”

She shrugged at me. “Old habit, I guess.” That’s just like her. Misato adjusts to change easily for comfort. She goes for the comfortable blindly. I can’t tell her I’m dying. She couldn’t take it.

“I see,” I said.

“Daddy!” I heard someone cry. I looked and saw Kinue-chan running towards me. She hugged on my legs. I patted her on the head.

“Hello Kinue-chan,” I said. “How are you?”

“Great!” she cheered. “I got a gold star today!” I laughed.

“I’m so happy for you,” I said. “For that, I will buy you cake.”

“Yay!” Kinue-chan cheered. “Cake!” I turned to her mother.

“So, what’s for dinner?” I asked. She put on her best mask.

“Motsunabe,” she replied. I managed a little smile. She still makes my favorites after all this time.

Dinner is always quiet. Misato and I don’t even look at each other the whole time. Kinue-chan sits between us at the table. She’s become sort of a barrier between us. The glue holding the family together in a sense. Because of her, I came here.

No. That’s not it.

I come home because I want to. I need to.

I glanced at my wife. What happened to us? We didn’t cheat. We didn’t fight. There still is no bitterness between us. We just… drifted apart.

I am married to my work and Misato wanted to grow into her own person. We still love each other, but we needed to be alone for a while.

Nothing really changed. Our marriage wasn’t on fire. We lived a normal married life. Nothing special really. Even Misato’s bonsai trees had more life to them than our relationship did. Still, we can’t let go. We just can’t.

“Would you like more?” Misato asked. I nodded at her.

“Yes, please,” I said. She served me more food. Kinue-chan ate up quietly. She knows what’s going on; I can tell. Children know when something’s wrong. They are sensitive like that.

After dinner, I helped Kinue-chan get ready for bed and read her a story. Once she was asleep, I took my leave. Misato saw me out the door.

“Thank you for dinner,” I mumbled.

“You’re welcome,” my wife replied. I walked out the door, got in my car, and drove back to my apartment. Somehow, I want to keep doing this before I die.

I don’t believe in divorce.

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