I covered the bathroom tile with the attraction symbols. I used your eyeliner, and when I was done with that and it had crumbled to nothing, I went to Macy’s and got three more. I took the remains of the first with me: it made the assistant coo, to think I was doing this for you, with your consent.
The kids asked, Daddy, when will Mommy be back? And, Daddy, what is this spray? And I said to them, Never mind what it is—spray it liberally! Coat every corner! Coat every surface! Jacob had texture-adding holding spray, and Wendy had glossy-sheen spray. Mine said “anti-frizz”.
We got into your perfume, and by this time the kids were having a ball. The act of dousing our home in everything that belonged to you made them forget you weren’t with us.
The surfaces were made welcoming to you as per the book, covered in your essence, sticky, or slippery, or marked in diagrams and formulae.
My phone, so often the source of our conflict, became repellent. I almost succeeded in dialling your cell, but my fingers grew shaky and I dropped it on the hardwood. Part of the screen cracked, went color-crazy, and flickering lines told me no. It confirmed what I suspected, that I couldn’t win you back by talking. Years of ignoring you in favor of social media had made it too late for that. I needed magic.
I read the incantations, and a day later, you slipped in through the back door. Despite your stealth I heard the soft scraping of your fingers as they touched the photos of our children on the fridge.
You stayed, though you weren’t really here at first. The kids saw it, intuitive like they always are.
“Mommy, you seem different.”
I thought you looked like you’d escaped a fire—traumatized, but grateful. Your glazed eyes barely registered our arcane scrawls. Anyway, we would have fun cleaning them off the walls, as a family.
You floated around the house like a memory. We were so happy to have you back, but you were still missing. You were still processing, still deciding.
At dinner, Wendy said she was sorry if it was her behaviour that drove you away, and that she wouldn’t misbehave again. You looked thoughtful, tearful, and cupped her chin, and at that moment I realized I hadn’t given my sacrifice. No wonder you weren’t fully back with us! I shot backwards, away from the table, and bolted upstairs, as you hugged Wendy into you, your golden hair falling over her button face.
I flicked on the PC and navigated to my accounts, all of them, and I deleted my profiles. With every deletion, I felt lighter. Jacob bashed open the door while I was vanishing myself. “What are you doing, Daddy?” he asked.
“More magic. Making sure Mommy doesn’t leave again.”
He was satisfied, and clomped back down the stairs.
I took my damaged phone and tore it apart. I crushed the tiny pieces with my heel, and binned the whole sorry mess.
I gave you my undivided attention, and you came back. No more ####. You’re here. We’re all here, bound tight.
Simon Pinkerton is a small cheese on a giant Lazy Susan. He is from just outside of London (he was banned) and writes fiction and humor for so many darling magazines it would be terribly dull to list them. Please find him @simonpinkerton