Everything Might Break
Is it might that smashes down upon the dinner table? Is that what you would call my husband’s fist, shattering our evening meal? The chicken is dry, tough as leather, he says. His jaw’s strength is not enough to rend it, he says. The peas are on the floor now, tender, hand-hulled, soft and buttered - just the way he loves them best. Not that he can taste them, pinched as they are in the treads of his boot.
The chair is on its side, the first casualty of our little war, a steadfast officer down while its brethren watch, unmoved. Might be broken, might just need a little glue. Wouldn’t be the first time, might be the last. One of these nights has to be the last, doesn’t it? We can’t go on like this forever. It was just a thrift store find anyway, chipped-up hard-wood, old but sturdy. It was knocked back when he stood, knocked out when his fist fell.
The sauce is spilling across the tablecloth, seeping into worn threads, torn seams. It’s a tattered old rag, but I love it. One of the few things that was mine before I came here, met him. It could take hours to soak it, scrub it out. I’ll have to scald my hands, since butter never comes out without a bit of heat. Could be worse. Could be blood. Easier to clean, but I could stain it faster than I wash it. Wood creaks under his hands. I might have spoken too soon. The chicken was very tough, after all. Blood is not yet off the table.
The blinds are always pulled closed. He works at night, sleeps in the day, so it has to be dark, he says. No one sees in, no one sees out, I say. Sometimes I imagine someone there, just outside.They might see me and open everything up. A fantasy, a little game I play. I don’t have neighbors, and if I did I wouldn’t know their names.
The bowl teeters, trembling on the edge. It was a gift, for our wedding, from a friend whose face I can no longer remember. Blown glass, one of a kind. It is beautiful, but not practical. It lingers, just about to fall. I watch it, until the buttons of his shirt take its place before my eyes. I might fall first, but I won’t shatter.
Nat Richards is a student of all forms of writing. Her works have appeared in TeenInk and in the three romantic anthologies Sunkissed: Effusions of Summer (Meryton Press, 2015), Then Comes Winter (Meryton Press, 2015), and The Darcy Monologues (Quill Ink, 2017). She currently lives in Oregon and cannot imagine living anywhere without a nearby forest.
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