Fiction Feature – The Familiar

“These things happen.”

That’s what I overheard standing in line at Cup o’ Joes. Margaret and I used to walk here Sunday mornings before she got sick, and after she retired. I was still teaching one English class a week over at the college. Buying the downtown condo had been Margaret’s idea. We sold our dream home, the retirement bliss in the suburbs, for 1800 square feet above Jasper Avenue. We walked everywhere, to dinner, to bookstores. She loved going to the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, the busiest day. She always loved a crowd.

The guy in the corner table sounded like he was in the midst of a divorce. His buddy, trying to change the subject, said, “These things happen, Tom. Been through it myself.”

These things happen? That’s what I used to say to Margaret when it rained on our annual vacation on Vancouver Island. We always rented the same green cabin two blocks from the water. It almost always rained. John and Susan used take the ferry over with their three girls. Margaret loved to walk the beach with the girls. Hated not getting her way. When the rain would come down, usually by the buckets, I would say, “These things happen,” and pull out a deck of cards. Or when we used to go visit Kelly and Jim in Kelowna and the traffic, weighted with a summer march of trailers and motor homes, would delay us by an hour, “These things happen,” Margaret would say, mostly to herself. I was too bothered by then to listen. But divorce? These things don’t just happen.

“I know. If someone woulda told you the day you fell in love with her…” I heard Tom’s friend trail off.

“Hi Bill. What did you think about those Red Sox?” the girl behind the counter smiles. “Would you like your coffee, two sugars?” she continues.

“Sure, Lynn. Thanks,” I say as I give her a twooney.

“See you tomorrow, Bill,” she says.

It’s a strange saying”? the day you fell in love with her. How do you pinpoint when you first fell in love? I’ve never understood that. Is it a moment? Do you fall in love with someone over the passing of one moment, one particular time? Or is it a collection of moments? A perpetual discovery. The beloved familiar. Kind of a mosaic of the ordinary.