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Playing Dead

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He looked so good off paper.

Golden hair, iridescent eyes, a lilting laugh and buttery announcer's voice. (Never trust an announcer-y voice in a man who is not an announcer. This is what should be written in fortune cookies, instead of "you are almost there.")

If only I had asked for references. If only I had asked to see his tax returns. If only I had called his former girlfriends to see if he'd been sanitized for my protection. People perform more due diligence before adopting a dog than I did before marrying Bill.

I'd only known him a few months. I should have waited to marry him until I knew his favorite ice cream. Or his middle name. Or that his brother was a pyromaniac who was being treated at a facility upstate (where they apparently didn't allow candles or smoking). With enough time surely his lies would have revealed themselves. Still, in my own defense, Bill lied carefully, aligning each one next to a small slice of truth. He said his brother was away at school. He said had a Master's degree when he had a bachelor's. He said he'd modeled clothes when he'd sold clothes. He said he acted in TV commercials when he acted during games of Charade. He said he only used lemon juice on his surfer-y hair. (Yeah, sure, just like Owen Wilson.)

After our too-soon nuptials, we moved to a Southern city where I knew no one, had no money, and couldn't find work because my Midwestern accent apparently confounded and annoyed people, and the sheer boredom of our life forced us to have long conversations. We could afford nothing but talking. And Bill talked so much his lies got tangled up on his tongue. Within a period of weeks, it all crumbled down. He was broke, in debt, under-educated, had no residual checks from national TV commercials flowing in, and was not sporting his natural hair color.

Still, these were not the reasons I left him. The lies irritated and confused me, the way roommates used to bug me when they ate my food in the refrigerator. Annoying, but possibly salvageable.

No, I left him because one day, my brain so dulled by inactivity and inertia in my claustrophobic apartment, waiting for him to come home and un-bore me, that I decided to surprise Bill by posing in the kitchen in lingerie, legs splayed on the linoleum floor, half a bottle of ketchup squirted across my throat, the faux-blood going up at the corners to coordinate with my lipstick. I lay there for half an hour, waiting for the certainty of his scream. Waiting to know that something was definitely going to happen.

When you are nineteen and so bored with your husband, you start staging crime scenes during the evening instead of playing cards, it's definitely time to go. Or it's time to go and become some sort of fucked-up artiste.

I did both.