Feeling generous, Ashley stepped over to browse the shop’sselection of rare books. She decided she’d buy her husband a priceyValentine’s gift, the signed copy of
, perhaps, or the
Peter Max Paper Airplane Book
, its pages meant to be torn out andfolded, with trippy statements of love and peace across Popsicle-colored wings.But as she ran her finger along the front of the cabinet, she becamesad at the possibility of this sentimental gesture losing its every bit of romance in the chill of their apartment. Something was wrong in her marriage, and that something weighted every exchange and pleasantryand informed every sharp tone. After nineteen years of raising a familytogether, she and Troy had fallen out of touch in their own home, lostamong their own things. Ashley and Troy had married at the very beginning of their adult lives,so everything they owned belonged completely to the both of them. If their marriage ever ended, they’d have to divide down an impossiblemiddle, determining whether something was somehow more his thanhers, or more hers than his. This book she might buy, for example: itwould be Troy’s gift, but it was Ashley’s thought that counted, wasn’t it?The book would represent this spontaneous Saturday-morning side tripinto Mermaids Singing, these lilies, the snow falling lightly outside, her enthusiasm that turned to melancholy.If divorce loomed, they’d have to decide who got the circa-1950sFrank Lloyd Wright cocktail table they’d bought while antiquing inMadison County on a romantic weekend touring the historic bridges, or the French poster for
that had hung on the bedroom door of their first apartment, or the clear broken horn from a crystal unicorn thattheir daughter, Peyton, had used as a stage prop in her high school’sproduction of
The Glass Menagerie
, a tiny spiraled piece of glass she’dpresented to her father as he’d handed a bouquet of blue roses up toher from the orchestra pit during the curtain call and the standingovation. Such a sweet moment.The grandfather clock in the corner of the bookstore chimed eleventimes with effort, its squeaky gears and workings about to give. Ashleyhad to run. She taught a Saturday-afternoon writing class, and later thatevening she was hosting a girls-only shindig, which was the reasonshe’d ventured out at all, for flowers, a peek of spring, this miserable icymorning.