About Sixty-Two Miles East of Cleveland

2/9/15

            “What do we do, Paul? We do we go from here?”

            “It doesn’t say that she wants to see him. It just says she’s called the agency.”

            “This was closed. It was a closed adoption. She agreed to this. She signed papers.”

            “We all signed papers, honey. She can’t see him.”

            “Then what does she want? Why is she trying to—”

            “Maybe she just wants to know how he’s doing… that he’s safe and alive.”

            “Of course he is. Of course he’s safe.”

            “Well of course he is, and the agency knows that. They said they just wanted us to be aware she had contacted them.”

            “Do you think she went in? To the agency, I mean.”

            “I don’t know, Laura, the letter just says she ‘contacted them regarding the child.’ I doubt she drove all the way out here.”

            “She might have. She may not even live in Buffalo anymore, it’s been twelve years. She could have moved closer. What if she lives around here now?”

            “She doesn’t.”

            “You don’t know that.”

            “I don’t, but I don’t plan on dwelling on the thought like I know you’re going to.”

            “It’s a possibility, though, you admit.”

            “Sure. Sure it’s a possibility. It’s also a possibility that gravity fails us and we all float into space.”

            “You’re not taking this seriously at all.”

            “I’m not, no. And do you know why? Because it isn’t a serious matter.”

            “I can’t… I can’t deal with—even the idea that she would—”

            “Laura. You need to stop. He’s going to be home in a few minutes. You can’t be crying when he walks in.”

            “What are we supposed to do?”

            “Please, honey, get it out of your head.”

            “What if she files some sort of suit against us?”

            “She can’t do that.”

            “She could find out where we live… where Oliver goes to school. She could find him.”

            “I’m not having this conversation with you anymore.”

            “Why won’t you think about the dangers for one moment?”

            “Because they’re ridiculous. He’s ours; Oliver’s ours. He’s been ours his entire life. He went straight from the nurse’s hands into yours. You’ve raised him—”

            “We raised him.”

            “—since before he understood a fucking thing.”

            “Paul—”

            “What? You’re his mother, Laura, not some glorified babysitter. There isn’t a goddamn jury on this earth that wouldn’t agree with that. Are you forgetting she was seventeen and practically homeless when we met her?”

            “It’s been twelve years—”

            “She was unfit! Chances are, she’s still unfit! Even if she’s the motherfucking CEO of a Fortune 500; she signed papers! You’re his mom and I’m his dad and nothing is going to change that, least of all this woman.”

            “We… we can’t tell him.”

            “There’s nothing to tell. As far as I’m concerned, she’s just the box that our son came in.”

            “And what are we to her? For all we know, she could see us as the bastards that tricked her out of raising her son.”

            “Laura, you’ve been thinking about this too much. You’re reading too far into it like you do with everything. You’re fine. I’m fine. Oliver’s fine.”

            “You mean we’re fine.”

            “That’s what I said.”

            “No. No—it’s not what you said. You said you were fine and I was fine.”

            “I have no idea what you mean.”

            “Are we united on this, Paul?”

            “Yes, of course. You know that.”

            “No, I really don’t. Are we fighting the same battles together? It feels like you’re fighting for the opposite side all the time. You’re against me—”

            “How—How could you say that to me? What—are you saying I don’t want Oliver in our lives? We’re his parents, Laura, how could you possibly say I’m not fighting for him?”

            “Because you’re not! You’re far too busy fighting with me!”

            “I’m only fighting with you because it’s the only way I know how to get through to you anymore! Goddammit, Laura, sometimes I just want to shake you! It’s like you can’t hear yourself talk anymore—you won’t take 3rd Street to drop Ollie off at school now because of the pothole, you refuse to take the child-proof locks off of the silverware drawer and Oliver is twelve—

            “What are you even accusing me of? Neuroticism? I don’t understand why you’re just now telling me that you hate my parenting style.”

            “That isn’t at all what I said.”

            “Then what do you mean? Have you felt like this the whole time? Have you always thought I was overbearing with our child?”

            “No.”

            “Then what? Why are you lashing out? Fuck, you have all of this pent up resentment over the decisions that I make for this family! It feels like I’m always waiting for you to come around to some idea—some trip or some art project or some family activity. Yet, time after time, you just stand there, like some emotionless robot, waiting for Oliver to be old enough to relate to! You’re just waiting!”

            “Just like you are, Laura! Waiting for the coast to be clear! You’re scared of so many things, I don’t even know what kind of monsters I’m supposed to investigate in the middle of the night anymore! You’re anticipating the end of the world constantly. I wake up to the sound of you gasping for air in your sleep a thousand times. You can’t even admit that you need help!”

            “Are you fucking kidding me? I’m not admitting I need help? I ask you for help every, single, day. I would love for you to help me out for once, god, how grand that would be—”

            “I meant professional help! Therapy! An unbiased third party with no vested interest in the well-being of this marriage!”

            “You’re saying that we need marriage counseling?”

            “I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. I’m—god, I’m exhausted.”

            “You can’t just say that you’re exhausted every time you want to get out of something.”

            “Most of the time, I’m not just saying it. I really feel tired. Just like I really feel tired right now.”

            “Tired of what, exactly?”

            “Stop with the questions. No more. I don’t want to—”

            “You never do.”

            “Stop that. Just stop. Stop tapping your nails and stop looking at me like that. Just—just please, Laura, give me a break.”

            “Then stop making me angry. Just be on my side for once.”

            “I am on your side.”

            “That’s the door. He’s home.”

            “Please try not to look like you were crying, I don’t want him asking questions, too.”

            “Where’s the letter?”

            “I’m going to shred it.”