by Natalia Vodilkova

It was Mr. and Mrs. Popovich’s 20th anniversary today, and both of them forgot. Boris Popovich went about his day routinely; Wake up in his damp bed around 5 am. Take a piss. Without washing his hands, put on the same khakis and collared shirt as every workday. Check himself out in the mirror. Not bad for 55. Head for the door—pay no attention to Mrs. Popovich on the way out, who is draped across the aged leather couch. 

She’s wearing her pink nightgown today; he can tell by the straps. She wore nothing underneath. Satin, light pink, ending just below her hips with a scalloped lace trim. She was so attractive once. Now, lying there cocooned in blankets, she looked old and tired to him. He considered whether it was a mistake to marry her. It doesn’t matter. This marriage had been a clean slate for him—a new name, new wife, new life. His routine was designed to keep him out of trouble. Little white lies were harmless, legal.

Next he gets in his ugly yellow cab. It was reminiscent of a misshapen bee, with its offensive yellow hue and sputtering engine. His permanent passenger was a faded old duffel bag. 

It was mostly empty, save for a stack of documents, a stuffed envelope, a bag of stale salted peanuts, and Marlboro reds. The envelope, labeled retirement, contained Boris’s life’s savings and sole motivation: a wrinkled brochure from Thousand Beaches Senior Living. 

 All Boris really wanted was enough money to spend his golden years like the infomercial had described: in sunny Palm Springs, Florida, atop endless neon green golf pitches ogling at blondes tanned orange. He didn’t care whether or not Mrs. Popovich joined. He hadn’t even told her. Florida was a humble dream that he kept to himself. Every Friday he counted his money and added another $500. College loans, hon, he’d told Mrs. Popovich years ago. He gazed at the brochure, the envelope, and the wad of cash inside. Only a few more years, he thought, over the grating honks of evening traffic. 

When Boris got home, Mrs. Popovich’s book club friend had parked in the single space driveway. Wanting some company too, he called up his old coworker from the Quikmart, looking to ask if she would hook up again. After a few rings, it was sent to voicemail. Boris tossed his Blackberry lamely across the couch. He couldn’t even remember the last time Mrs. Popovich had fucked him. He was starting to think women didn’t enjoy sex or something. He dozed off in front of the TV with a cigarette in hand and a big snore.  

Mrs. Yuliana Popovich, “Yuli” to friends, hadn’t slept with Boris in the last decade. That’s how she preferred it. Boris repulsed her. Regret was a shared sentiment in their marriage, but she regretted it more. 

At home that morning, Yuli waited for Boris to leave. She was off from her job at the library on Thursdays and Fridays, meaning she could see her favorite person in the world. Hearing the door slam, she jumped up from the couch, tossing the blankets and revealing her favorite lingerie nightgown. Sometimes Boris caught a glance through the bay window. But she hadn’t worn that for him in a decade. Yuli lit her breakfast cigarette and called Cynthia. They had both signed up for the local book club, every Friday at 7pm. It was there they’d met about five years ago. 

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Author Bio

Natalia Vodilkova is a poet, photographer, artist and writer. She’s a sophomore
Writing, Literature and Publishing major with a Narrative Nonfiction minor. She’s most
inspired by other creative minds and the human experience. Her goal is to have fun and
explore her own creativity and identity through her craft.