32. My Next Husband Will Be Normal

32. My Next Husband Will Be Normal

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters

My Next Husband Will Be Normal

A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.

~H. L. Mencken

“I’m taking a quick bike ride before breakfast,” I called to my husband as he went out the door. “I should be back in twenty minutes.” He turned to me, nodded, and headed toward the garage to tear apart a motorcycle.

For a moment, I hesitated, wondering if I should skip my morning ride. I had a migraine, and my fibromyalgia and arthritis were acting up, making it tough for me to even walk. But I was determined not to let my connective tissue disease get the better of me and alter my daily routine.

After pedaling only about a mile down a deserted dirt road near our house, I felt the strength draining from my body like air leaking from a balloon. I was weak, my ears began to ring, and things around me appeared to sprout black fuzz around the edges. Suddenly, my legs went limp like cooked linguini, and my body folded up like a cheap lawn chair. Then, everything went black.

I awoke in the ditch with the heavy bike across my chest. My head and ankle were throbbing. Bits of gravel were embedded in my skinned palms. When I tried to sit up, the world began to spin again, so I lay back down in the dirt.

Since I couldn’t make it home on my own power, I had no choice but to wait for someone to happen along and help me. Knowing there was rarely any traffic on that road, I clung to the hope that my husband would come to my rescue.

“He’ll be along any minute,” I reassured myself. “He’ll know something’s wrong when I’m not back home at the usual time.”

I assumed that when he realized I’d been gone too long, he would wonder if something happened and come looking for me. I was wrong.

I continued to lie there in a rain puddle with rocks and a discarded Pepsi can digging into my back. I felt like a marionette without strings. Each time I started to stand up, I felt faint, so I spent a good part of the morning lying there at the side of the road.

I pulled grass and a cigarette butt from my hair and spit the sandy grit from between my teeth while watching dead leaves, gum wrappers and other litter blow past me. When a McDonald’s bag tumbled by, I wondered who had eaten their Big Mac here, in the middle of nowhere, and then recklessly thrown the trash out their car window.

After a while, the local bugs discovered me. Bees buzzed around my head, ants crawled up my shorts, and Japanese beetles tickled my thighs. Meanwhile, the sun grew hotter as it rose higher in the sky.

After a while, I felt my strength returning. By this time, I’d become painfully aware that my husband was not searching for me. Giving up hope of my knight coming to help, I muttered to myself, “If I want to get home before winter snows come, it’s up to me to get myself there.”

Using the bike for leverage, I pulled my woozy body up on quivering legs. I couldn’t tell if it was the world spinning or just me wobbling. Half-standing and half-slumping over the handlebars for support, I trudged nearly a mile to get home. I mentally rehearsed what I would say to Sir Galahad when I got there.

Staggering into the front yard, I heard whistling in the garage. For a moment, I forgot the ringing in my head and the pain in my ankle. I dragged myself toward the whistling and said weakly, “I passed out in the road and waited for you to come looking for me.”

My husband looked up from his project in surprise.

“Weren’t you worried about what had happened to me when I didn’t come right back from my ride?”

“I didn’t notice that you were gone that long,” he replied.

“I was gone most of the morning!” I hollered. He looked puzzled.

“I could have broken all my limbs or been flattened by a moving van!” I told him.

I was angry enough to spit hammers, but he just stood there silently. I wondered if, while I was gone, he’d been zapped by a lightning bolt and struck dumb. He wiped his hands on a greasy rag and shrugged.

“My inward parts could have been spilling out all over the road,” I ranted. “I could have been devoured by wolves. My eyes could have been plucked out by vultures! All sorts of vermin could have been feasting on my flesh… but you didn’t even notice I was gone!”

“Sorry,” he whispered.

With a sigh, he turned back to his motorcycle. Then, as if he’d remembered something, he turned back. I waited expectantly for a delayed display of sympathy.

“Oh,” he said, “let me know when lunch is ready.”

I was too weak to choke him, but as I fell in a heap on the porch, I made a resolution: If I have a next husband, I will definitely try to find one who’s normal.

~Marsha Jordan

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