The Wife pockets the stack of twenties The Husband left on the dresser and drives her Suburban to the Fresh Market. She buys Bartlett pears, Granny Smith apples, a crisp head of broccoli, and unripe bananas that within hours will bruise brown in the Florida heat. There’s celery for the diet she keeps commanding herself to go on. Two boxes of lime Jell-O for The Husband’s upcoming colonoscopy. A six-pack of Seven-Up for the next time one of her kids announces, “I feel like I’m going to throw up.”
Driving home The Wife is surrounded by green—Royal Palms rustling overhead, Robellini palms swaying on her verdant front lawn. Pimento olives dot the picadillo she fixes in her 8-quart crockpot. Since no one else in her family likes zucchini bread—not even the dog—The Wife bakes a loaf and eats half of it, slathered with cream cheese, all by herself.
On the kitchen table sits a thermos of Green Mountain coffee The Husband forgot to bring to the office, a new badge waiting to be sewn onto her daughter’s Girl Scout sash, and half a dozen photos of photosynthesis yet to be glued onto her son’s science fair poster.
The Wife is old enough to remember when Girl Scouts earned badges in Baking and Sewing rather than Survival Skills. She remembers when TV screens were green as seaweed, rather than jet-black and covering half the living room wall. Ages ago—on her first dates with college boys—she drank Rolling Rock straight from the bottle and dipped tortilla chips into bowls of guacamole and salsa verde in sticky-floored bars. She talked about poetry and art and dreamed of going to Europe to revere Monet’s blooming lily pads and the glazed green dress of the serene bride in Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding.
The Wife owns a jade pendant—hidden in the false bottom of her jewelry box—that a former boyfriend, the real love of her life, gave her for good luck. But now on her daily rounds to school and the dry cleaners, The Wife catches more red lights than green ones. She needs only look at her basil plant for the already-anemic leaves to turn brown and drop.