Joanne completed thirteen crossword puzzles and read the only People magazine she has three times. She still doesn’t agree that Katie Holmes looked better in that flower pattern dress than Reese Witherspoon.
Her eyelids are heavy. The van is silent. The only sounds she hears are the turning of tires on asphalt and the flicking on and off of the blinker as they drift from lane to lane.
Jeff hasn’t said a word for hours. The last thing he said to her was, “can I have two quarters?” when they came up to a toll plaza.
Joanne will never forget the night Jeff stopped really talking to her. He came home late and the lights of the van turned so slowly around the corner that she thought he was a patrolling police officer. Jeff was always fast around the last corner before their house.
She heard him pull into the driveway. She turned off the TV, tightened her bathrobe and walked to the window. She hid her face behind a curtain and watched as he slowly opened the door of the van. He stepped out and shut the door behind him softly, like it was made out of glass. She watched Jeff put his forehead on the side of the van and stand there, still. She could tell something was wrong. He appeared hurt, like he was standing without any strength in his body. It was the way she had seen him stand over the grave of his mother years before in the rain.
She watched him for twenty minutes. He didn’t move once.
She started to feel dizzy and stepped away from the window. It was a good time to go upstairs and crawl underneath her covers, she thought. She left him there standing alone in the driveway and went upstairs and quickly lifted her feet up to tuck the covers underneath her heels. Her whole body felt cold.
She was used to his drinking. Jeff had always loved to drink. He was drunk the night they met and doesn’t remember a thing from it. There were times he would come home late smelling like booze but something felt different watching him stand there. It made Joanne’s chest hurt. He was just so motionless. He looked like a plastic figurine waiting for someone to come over and help bend his joints so he could move.
Every time Jeff came home drunk he would tell her right when he got into bed that he had been at the bar and had had a great time. He would always try and make her laugh. He would tell her stupid little things like what songs he really enjoyed hearing on the jukebox or if he had seen anyone that night that looked like a famous person; the night before he had seen Rod Stewart sweeping the floors of a gas station.
When he finally made his way inside to their bedroom and into bed, he ran his hand over her forehead and kissed her on the cheek. Then he turned over on his side without saying a word and fell asleep. He pulled some of the covers away from her hands when his body rolled.
They woke up the next morning and Jeff never told her where exactly he was the night before. Or if anything was wrong. He just told her that he was out playing cards with some friends from work and when she asked him if he had seen anyone famous, Jeff said he couldn’t remember.
That was the first night Joanne dreamt that she woke up and the entire world was gone.