He remembered their first fight. Not the first disagreement or misunderstanding but first real fight. They had just moved in together. Maybe a month in? Not much longer than that for sure. It was all still very new and they were getting used to living with each other and the odd little things you have to adjust to. You know the ones, do they leave their socks on the floor, do they put dishes on the counter or in the sink, do they close drawers and closet doors or leave them open? The little things that become big things if you don't figure them out quickly.
Anyway, the first big fight. It was a Thursday night. He had gone out after work with some guys from the office and they had watched a ball game and had some beers and grabbed some wings. Then he went home. Home to find dinner on the table. Cold dinner by this time. And a very hot girlfriend. Not hot like attractive, though she was that as well, hot like angry. "Where the fuck were you?" was the greeting he got as he walked in to the room.
"I called you like 20 times."
At that point he pulled out his cell phone and saw the battery was dead. This was the time before smart phones. You remember that right? When you weren't constantly checking your phone for everything so a dead battery without noticing happened sometimes.
"The guys and I went to Sparky's to watch the game. It's not a big deal."
Now the dishes started getting cleared off the table. Or slammed off the table more accurately. Pick up, stomp to sink, scrape the food in to the garbage disposal, slam the dish in to the other side. "It's not a big deal? I've been waiting for you for hours. I had no idea where you were!" Stomp, scrape, slam. "I tried calling and all I got was voice mail!" Stomp, scrape, slam.
"Look just because we are living together doesn't mean I'm going to give up all of my guy time. That's not going to happen."
At that she spun on her heel towards him, holding a glass in her hand, for a minute he was pretty sure she was going to throw it at his head. "Who the hell said you had to? But fucking call home and let me know! Or better yet, tell me the day before, or a few days before. I could have gone out with my own friends, did you ever think of that? I definitely wouldn't have fucking made dinner!"
He had never seen her so angry. And he couldn't decide if he was scared or turned on. She was breathing hard. Her cheeks were flushed. Her eyes were flashing every time she looked at him. It was really pretty sexy. It would have been more so if she hadn't been so very angry, but even then. Passionate! That was what he thought, she was passionate.
That was the first big fight. Dishes slamming. Yelling. Swearing. They worked it out. He realized that living together meant letting her in on his plans. All of them, not just the ones that he made with her. And he also remembered to keep his phone charged.
After a few years the passionate fights died down. They figured out how to live together. How to work things out together. They got married. Had their first kid. Life moved on.
He remembered their worst fight.
Sitting in a bar on a date night. Their daughter was with his mother. Grownup time out. They hadn't been out together in a long time. As they sat having a drink before heading to dinner a couple of people from his office stopped to say hello. He had swallowed the large lump in his throat and made the introductions. Smoothly. Cleanly. And they moved on. He had turned back to his wife at that point and realized things were not smooth or clean. Her jaw was clenched ever so slightly. If you didn't know her you would never notice. Her lips, normally relaxed and smiling were held in a straight line. The spark in her eyes replaced by ice. Seriously, to look directly in her eyes at this point would give you a shiver down your back. The cold radiated off of her.
"How long?" Flat, toneless, just the words, nothing else.
"Until dinner? Umm...our reservations are at 8, so another half hour."
The small slight twitch at the corner of her mouth. The only emotion in her face. There for a second and then gone. "How long have you been sleeping with her?" The same flat tone. Ice water in her veins.
He reached casually for his glass and knocked it right off the table.
"Don't make a scene, I'm asking you a question. How long?" He looked at her hands. She had them folded on the table. Clutching herself so hard there were white moons around each finger tip. He saw the muscles in her arms were bunched. Tense. Like a trap waiting to spring.
But she never did. Ice. Cold. Stare. Nothing but control.
That fight was a long one. But she never got warmer. And it was never sexy. Just scary. The way she held herself when they talked. Like she didn't trust her hands if they weren't held tightly. They worked through things. He hadn't been sleeping with the co-worker. Not yet. But they were close. That stopped. He changed positions in the company, moved to a new office, things got better. The ice thawed.
Years passed again. Things just sort of fell apart. No more almost affairs, no more out without calling nights. Just drifting.
Now they sat in an office with a counselor trying to fix things. To bring it back to good. He remembered the first fight, the heat, the passion. He remembered the worst fight, the ice, the reserve, the fear. And as he looked at her face while the counselor talked he saw, well he saw nothing. Blank. Empty. She could have been making a grocery list in her head for all of the emotion she was showing. And he realized that the first fight, the worst fight, those were bad, but this? This was the last fight.
And there was no fight left.