Do Us Part

June, they say, is for weddings, and lovers often schedule their exchange of vows accordingly. Some couples may not know why June is a highly prized marriage month, so here’s a quick explanation.

Juno, wife of Jupiter, was the goddess of marriage and was thought to watch over all Roman women. Roman women who married in June, the month named for their protectress, believed good fortune would be theirs in their match.

He married in June, and for a time he thought that his marriage was thus blessed, even though neither he nor his spouse were Italian and lived in the 20th-century, not the 1st.

Gradually, things changed. He could felt it and knew it was not for the better. He’d married one person, and that person had morphed into someone else. They grew distant, and although he’d heard of people falling out of love, he’d no idea this could actually happen. It did. They were no longer in love, but they kept up the charade for some reason. He felt sure that the subject of divorce was in the offing.

He waited. Somewhat eagerly. But the subject even of separation did not surface. Gradually, he began to feel irritated by having to live with this stranger, and anger seeped in to fill the space in him that love had occupied at one time.

Why they continued to share the same bed bothered him so, that he would lie there at night seething over the absolute lack of communication they now shared. Things were so un-June-like that he cursed Juno for false advertising. They might as well have waited for a February 29th to roll around. At least that way they’d only have to celebrate their enslavement once every four years.

And then one remarkable night, finally exhausted by torment into a fitful sleep, he had a dream. In it, he saw himself borrowing a neighbor’s shovel, for he owned none. The man kindly loaned it to him and even asked in a neighborly way if he could help in the project.

He declined the proffered assistance and went about excavating a deep hole all by himself. It was grueling work, but in the dream he saw himself eventually standing over a six-foot deep pit, beaming with sweat and satisfaction.

In the dream, his muscles ached from the labor, and the pain was so vivid that he groaned. The sound was so loud that he woke himself momentarily but then fell back asleep, returning to the dream.

Standing there staring at the hole, he became aware of a feeling of great sadness. The emptiness of the hole weighed on him. What to do?

Of course, he needed to fill it, but not just with the dirt he’d dug out. No, he knew what he wanted to throw in that hole and bury, and he saw himself smiling in his dream. The smile became a laugh, and again he woke himself up.

Turning slightly, he saw that he was alone. Sliding out of bed, he went downstairs. Nothing. He called out, but there was no answer. Again he felt come over him that same intensity of deep sadness he’d felt in the dream when he contemplated the emptiness of the hole.

He ended his search in the upstairs bathroom. By the time he reached it, that melancholy had become an overwhelming sorrow, and as he leaned against the sink, he began to cry. Raising his hands to wipe away the tears, he saw, much to his confusion, that his hands were dirty.

Oh no, he thought, it couldn’t be.

He ran downstairs and out the rear door into the backyard. The first thing he did was trip over a shovel. Peering at it in the moonlight, he saw that it was the same shovel he’d dreamt he borrowed from his obliging neighbor.

Panic set in, and he began traversing the huge yard traveling a path very much like a Roomba vacuum cleaner might. If the hole were there, he would not miss it. And then –

He stopped dead. There was a hole, and it looked to be six feet deep. Thank God, he thought. Had it been filled in, he wasn’t sure how he might have reacted. True, he was as far out of love as anyone could be. But no. No, he would never go that far.

Then what was going on? He knelt at the side of the hole and stared into it to make sure there was no body at the bottom. There was none.

Could it be that he was still dreaming? That none of this was really happening? If he’d done all the work . . .

A sound caused him to look up. And then it hit him.

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