After dinner I’d watch old Gunsmoke or Mash episodes and smoke joints until the wee hours, the only oxygen I breathed in limited to whatever came in with the smoke, and in the absence of Sally’s affection, I’d stay nestled away in that plume, that place where the gods of daydreamers made promises to those still too young to understand the limits of time. Perhaps the next day, or the day after that, sugar and spice and everything nice would season my world. During commercials, while Sally fed Patty in the kitchen, I’d imagine the life I wanted, the same kind of camaraderie I’d see in the shows. Sally and I had experienced it once, before we were married, a day when everything felt right and we knew we were meant for each other. For the first few months we dated I could tell she had been going through the motions, satisfied to have anyone present in her life, whereas I felt like the luckiest man alive to be dating someone so beautiful. Then she made me dinner at her place and wouldn’t allow me to help. I sat at the table and watched her every move, marveling at how content she was to cook and experiment with ingredients, laughing about adding something she’d never tried before, tantalizing me with a teaspoon containing undisclosed herbs or seductively giving me a sip of sauce or a small taste of meat from the blade of her chef’s knife. “I dare you,” she’d tease, and I’d let her slip the blade into my mouth and ease it out sans food, something I’d learn to never allow. Physical beatings I could handle; there was an element of intimacy in them, a hopefulness of want, of change, for eventual improvement; cutting was more sinister, a step towards an irreversible end. At the time I think she felt good about us, too, at least for that day, and together we saw what was possible. Sometimes I think our entire relationship was built on the success of that one day. I kept hoping we’d eventually find our way back to that moment. I just didn’t care to have as many sweets as she liked to bake and expected me to eat. Sally wouldn’t touch them herself, so I was glad when Patty fulfilled that role.