Their marriage went loveless somewhere around five years after they'd said “I do” in an ornate cathedral, before a guest list whose net worth could easily be rounded to the nearest billion.
Or maybe it was only five days, or even five hours, as the reception raged aboard a yacht purchased solely for that event, and half-filled glasses of thousand-dollar champagne sat carelessly abandoned on dining room tables while younger members of the wedding party writhed on the dance floor to a band who played most of its engagements in packed arenas.
“She's a gold digger,” his mother had said.
The notion was not uncommon among their social circle. His looks could most kindly be described as “average,” provided that the average man had a nose that sat like a lump of clay still drying on his face, ears borrowed from an elephant, and lips that quivered above his chin in a perpetually agonized frown.
She, if photographed at any moment of wakefulness, or even more seductively while asleep, could grace the cover of any publication involving fashion, or beauty, or anything at all that was wonderful.
She had heard the whispers, and knew her husband had heard them as well. Noticed that he did not merely look at her, but studied her, as if any hair out of place might signal a betrayal. Leaned forward at the sound of her every spoken word, taking it in, measuring it against others, charting them in his own internal polygraph in search of a lie, or even a contradiction.
Against this perceived inquisition, every time he'd ask a question, she would end her response with, “Why?”
What are you reading?
“The new Donna Tartt novel. Why?”
Did you finish binge watching Grey's Anatomy?”
“No, I'm about halfway through this season. Why?”
After awhile, he grew to find this habit irritating, having even casual conversation treated as an inquisition. Hoping to end this marital sore spot, he finally asked, “Why do you say, 'Why,' every time I ask you a question?”
“I don't know; it's just something I do. Habit, I guess."
A pause, then unconsciously,