I hoped this day would never come, but it’s here—and there’s no stopping it.
Some might call me a fool for throwing away a good thing, but they could never understand my situation. Do you think I want to pour 10 years of a happy, faithful marriage down the drain? No, but I have to, because an appreciable amount of a chemical compound that smells like feces has been detected in Venus’ upper atmosphere.
I’ve decided to leave my wife; my gorgeous, supportive, relentless wife, Miranda, who always killed the bugs in our apartment while I shrieked from atop the kitchen island; who always supported my young adult novel-writing career, even when it was clear I was a talentless hack; who selflessly volunteered to massage my brother, Ezra’s, massive, sore, and rippling biceps last labor day after he hauled our camping gear out of his manly, mud-splattered 4WD Jeep when I had passed out from a single can of mango-flavored, low-calorie “Simpler Wines.” Miranda, I regret to say this, but our marriage is over.
That day, after the biceps massage, when you and Ezra went out “looking for firewood,” I took a solemn vow that if planetary scientists ever found the slightest signs of life on another planet, I would leave you. Miranda, my voluptuous, enigmatic, loyal wife, this watershed scientific breakthrough is the final nail in our marriage’s coffin.
Remember when they found methane on Mars? That was a close call. In the young adult novel-writing industry we call that “foreshadowing.”
I can still feel the warmth from your hands as you squeezed mine and said, “We should seek couples counseling.” Did you know about my vow then? No, you couldn’t have. In couples therapy you refused to unpack the real threats to our marriage, always opting to talk about Ezra this and Ezra that. I had to constantly steer us back on track: “The Martian methane could have been produced abiotically! THAT MEANS IT ISN’T A SIGNATURE OF LIFE, MIRANDA!”
I remember how you buried your face in your hands, sobbing, after my outburst. I, too, cried tears—tears of joy—knowing that the presence of methane could have been explained by geological processes on Mars, which meant that our marriage was safe, that we could still be together. Therapy is fake. Our love was real.
I recall how you assured me that we needed to keep it together for the sake of our three children, to stay true to the wedding vows we spoke to each other, 10 years ago, during a disastrous reception in a hot air balloon accident that took the lives of several onlookers. And for you, I was willing to try.
Still, our marriage continued to spiral. The sex was as passionate as ever, though, even if you started shouting Ezra’s name at climax. I was willing to wait it out for another biosignature, a less disputable sign of life on another planet. Well, that day came today, and sealed our fate.
Some experts in the scientific community believe that the amount of phosphine found on Venus could only be produced by life. And for me, that’s enough to activate the vow I took while you and Ezra, after spending all afternoon “looking for firewood,” decided we didn’t have enough and went out for “more firewood.” I still think it’s weird we didn’t make a fire that night.
Phosphine. The molecule that ruined my marriage.
It sickens me to do this, especially to someone who’s been so kind and loyal during our entire marriage. I’m the villain here. No. Venus is. Venus and her fucking homewrecking, poisonous FART CLOUD.
I’m sorry, Miranda, but a vow is a vow, and I took one last labor day after you came out of a backcountry sauna covered in hickeys and Ezra’s cum. My only hope is that you’ll forgive me for ending our marriage so abruptly and with little justifiable reason.
In spite of it all, I hope that the biosignature observation turns out to be false. Then, we can be together again.