The cab line at the airport was long, but Ray’s mind is still preoccupied as the cab nears his home. His conference was very productive and his research presentation was well received. His mind now focused on what will await him when he walks through the door at home. Insipid conversations with Maureen have become the norm.

The cab pulls up and Ray pays the fare. He walks up the steps and puts the key in the lock and turns. The door opens and he enters, “Hi, I’m home.” The only response is a leap and a lick from his 75-pound Labrador Retriever, Lily.

He walks down the hallway and sees Maureen sitting at the kitchen table. He says, “I’m back, how are you?” Maureen looks up from her crossword puzzle and says in a perfunctory tone, “I’m fine, how was your conference?” This is never followed by, “Did you eat on the plane, can I make you some scrambled eggs?”

Ray knows full well what will follow. He has seen this movie before. Neither of them even pretends that a hug or kiss is appropriate after four days apart. Another empty conversation. Her eyes have barely moved from the crossword puzzle. The only thing scrambled will be his emotions.


Kevin Loughlin is a retired surgeon.