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A Morning Conversation by Martin Green


“I can’t believe he did that,” said my wife Eleanor.

"Neither can I.”

We were talking about what had happened with our next-door neighbors, Mary and Jack Robbins. We’d been scheduled to go out to dinner with them the night before. Mary had called Eleanor in the morning with the news that Jack had left her. He said he’d fallen in love with another woman, a fellow teacher at his college. Mary had gathered that the fellow teacher was younger, possibly much younger. Eleanor had of course immediately gone over to see Mary. When she came back, she reported that Mary was in shock and couldn’t stop crying.

What Jack had done was hard to believe but I couldn’t help thinking that Mary had put on a lot of weight in the last few years. For that matter, Eleanor had spread out herself, but not nearly as much. A younger woman. I pictured her as slim and pretty.

“He’s destroyed his family,” said Eleanor.

The Robbins had two children, a boy and a girl, just as we did. Although Mary and Jack were about the same age as we were, they’d married earlier so their children were older, the son in college and the daughter a high school senior. I wouldn’t have said that Jack had destroyed his family; the kids were old enough to adjust. Still, he hadn’t done them any good.

“What’s Mary going to do?”

“She doesn’t know. They’ll get a divorce eventually, I suppose. He left his wife and kids and for what? A fling with some floozie.”

“She’s a college teacher,” I said.

“That doesn’t matter. She’s a floozie to have gone after Jack. Look at how old he is.”

“He’s the same age as I am. And he’s in much better shape. All that tennis.”

“Yes, I wish you’d exercise more.”

It was after breakfast. We’d moved to the patio with our coffees. I looked at the back lawn. It needed mowing. The shrubs needed pruning, also. And the gutters needed cleaning out before the next rain. “I get enough exercise around here. Where are the kids?”

“Playing outside somewhere. Don’t forget, we have two soccer games tomorrow.”


“Yes. Don’t you remember, Kyle had a rainout.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“He’s a rat.” I assumed she was referring to Jack, not to Kyle. “It’s probably a middle-aged crisis thing. I hope you’re not going to have one.”

I didn’t reply to this.

“I hope she takes him for all he has.”

“He’s a college professor; he can’t have that much.”

“Well, at least she’ll have the house. I still don’t know how he could have done it. I’ll call her later.” She stood up. “Are you through with your coffee?”


She took the cups back to the kitchen and I could hear water running in the sink. Eleanor didn’t like dirty dishes laying around. Well, I’d better get to the day’s work. I stood up. I understood that Jack had done, what to a woman like Eleanor, seemed an incomprehensible thing. A middle-aged guy throwing away his wife and family. But maybe the thrill of having an affair had been enough for Jack. She was young and new and now he’d have a new life, leaving behind the suburban life, the kids, the chores, the boring routine of things. I would never do what Jack had done. For one thing, I imagined that that the new life would soon become as routine as the old one. Still, I had had my thoughts. I went into the garage and got out the lawn mower.



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