It’s red, which I suppose is a perfectly respectable color for a minivan, but I hate it. I prefer the dark grey sedan that sits in the garage, boring and reliable. I got it in the settlement. I got the house too, though it was always mine to begin with. I was the only one who lived in it truly. I had seen it three months after our marriage, when we were still living in that condo uptown. His condo, full of his clean sleek furniture, the one I moved into. I couldn’t imagine raising kids there and so for months I had shown him house after house online only to have him give them the barest of glances.
He’d say, “What’s wrong with this place? It’s plenty beg for the two of us?”
I took a wrong turn the day I found it. The for sale sign jumped out at me and I swiveled my head to look and what I saw took my breath away. A brick colonial with a white columned porch. Two stories with an old oak tree in the front, vines on the north side of the house. I knew the instance I laid eyes on it that it was meant for me. James use to joke that I love the house more him. I did, and now that I know everything I am glad he never imprinted on it. Whenever I walk through the place all I can see is me. The drapes I picked out, the hand railing that took weeks to redo, the vines that I stenciled in the dining room. All of it chosen, finished and arranged by me. Even the rooms, meant for children, turned into an extra guest room and an office when I began to accept that I would remain childless.
Two years into our marriage James started wanting kids. I was ecstatic but I was also up for a promotion at work. So I asked to wait, just a year. I got the promotion, then there was the accident, then three years later my fears were confirmed. The thing is, I can’t remember James for any of those events. He had been in Tampa, every single time. I called about the promotion, he congratulated me then he had to go. Later, I think he took me out to dinner, about a week later, but I was already celebrated out. The girls from work had taken me out and my new responsibilities had become a welcome burden.
My mother called him after the accident. I had made her my emergency contact since James was back and forth to Tampa so often that I couldn’t depend on him. I don’t remember James throughout the entire six-month ordeal. I remember my mother, sitting by my side for weeks on end. I remember my secretary, Michelle, bringing me work to do and the office gossip. I remember the whispers but no James.
The day I got the news, I didn’t even try to call. I went home and cried. Michelle came over, she helped me decide what to do with the two spare rooms. She stayed with me that night, her hand curled over mine, head resting where James’ should have been.
I found out a few months later, a stray letter. Followed by investigation. A family in Tampa, a house, two kids, a dog, another woman and a cherry red van. I didn’t call him first. I called a lawyer. I was entitled to things. I called him then, I didn’t even say hello.
“I want the house, my house, and my car, and her van. Don’t fight me on this James because you’ll lose, you know you will.”
Six month later I have a minivan and my maiden name. I wish I could say I was hurting, but I wasn’t. The more I think about it the more I realize James and I were never in love. We were just doing what we were supposed to do, go to college, get married, start a family. Except I couldn’t do that last part. I couldn’t really fault him for finding something to make him happy, after all, I had the house.
The neighbor from across the street comes out of her house, toddler and 7-year-old in tow. Her belly is just starting to show the pending arrival of a third. She pauses as she sees the van.
“Hey Ness. You got a van?”
“Yeah, actually I am looking to sell it. You wouldn’t happen to know anybody who would be interested in buying?”
She glances at her white 4-door.
“I could go real cheap.”
She smiles then.
“Sure, I’ll talk to Robert about it.”