Listen to Me

They’d wanted to make Indianapolis by noon, but they overslept. Mark offered to walk the dog while Maggie packed up the car. He’d wanted her to do it the night before, but Maggie said it was nuts to leave a car full of luggage on a side street in Chicago.

“Every time,” she’d said. “We go through this every time.”

“You worry too much,” he said.

“Maybe you don’t worry enough.”

It was dark by the time they had this argument and late, which meant Maggie had already won.

And so, in the morning, it was Mark—as promised—who took the dog out so that Maggie could arrange the car. But downstairs, in the private entrance to their apartment—private entrance! It had taken forever, but three years ago they finally found the perfect apartment with its own perfectly private entrance, which they didn’t have to share with a single other person, a fact that, to this day, continued to bring Maggie sharp, if fleeting, pleasure—was the week’s recycling, just sitting there at the bottom of the stairs. Mark swore he’d taken it out.

Clearly, he hadn’t.

She put down the luggage and was about to pick up the bin to do the job herself when she saw it: a pink-gold length of foil peeking up from beneath a newspaper. She pushed the paper aside.

Her heart sank—exactly what she thought: the foil was attached to an empty bottle of champagne. Her bottle of champagne. Hers and Mark’s, from their last anniversary. She’d been saving it. For what, she didn’t know. But she’d liked looking at it every now and then above the refrigerator, where she’d stashed it next to the cookbooks. True, it had been a while since she’d taken any real note of the thing. Even so. It made her sad to think he’d thrown it out without ceremony, which was an overly sentimental concern—did an empty bottle truly merit ceremony?—but what was she going to do? Suddenly become a different person?

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