Each brought home a fifth of Red Stag every night. They smiled at one another, compared brown bags, placed the bottles in the freezer, sang John Prine songs, kissed over the counter.
The counter, where she would make him steak on March 14, the man’s holiday. Later he would slur into her face such love, and she would slur back. This was their life, a life fought for and won.
He couldn’t smoke weed. It made him paranoid. Weed was her choice. Drinking always ending in her throwing up, curled into a ball on the bathroom floor. But she kept drinking, because weed made him paranoid.
Paranoid of what? she asked him.
Of losing you, he said.
And then Prine and others, songs belted out after the kids were asleep. Her voice as true as anything he’d heard.
No more weed for you, she said. But I must have weed. You understand.
Of course he understood. She and a friend smoked in the bedroom while he tuned the guitar in the kitchen, taking a break long enough to lean over the counter and pour two more fingers.