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Conclusion of “The Fault”

bones faultWhen he got home, she wasn’t there yet. Because this never happened, he assumed she’d gotten an angry phone call from Chelsea, who would have told her everything in such a way that he would be the stereotypically chauvinistic sex fiend. He would be unable to wait to explain himself or defend himself against her accusations and threats. So, he called her.

That’s when he heard her phone vibrating on the counter, right next to a half-emptied glass of room-temperature orange juice that had been left there for, he guessed, about nine hours and thirty-some-odd minutes.

He checked the phone, and saw that no one had called her all day except for him.

Draining the glass, he proceeded to corral the rest of the unwashed breakfast dishes to the sink. He’d only turned on the tap when he heard the door open and the jingling of her keys banging on the side of her thigh.

“You’re home early,” she said, before he could greet her.

“You’re home late—well, later.”

“I’m taking cues from you.”

She pushed past him to the refrigerator with her lunch bag and purse still hanging from her arm. Scanning the contents of the refrigerator, she reminded him that they were out of milk and shut the door.

“Were you in a hurry this morning?”

She wasn’t paying attention, so he repeated the question, this time with more concerned, projecting so she could hear him over the clanking of the dishes he was stacking.

“Hm?”

Again, he repeated the question.

“Oh, no. I mean, I guess. I didn’t sleep much, so I was slow starting.”

“Oh.”

“Thanks for doing the dishes, by the way. I have no desire to do anything tonight. I’m thinking of skipping out on the art center, too.”

“Wow. Already?”

“I’m not quitting. I just need to regroup. I can’t start out running on low. I don’t know. I am exhausted.”

He paused, and let go of his question about her suddenly renewed interest in ballet, not because he knew the answer but because he thought of another question.

“Hey, speaking of dishes, have you seen my chip bowl? I couldn’t find it the other day.”

“It was broken.”

“What do you mean, ‘It was broken’? You mean you broke it.” Continue reading “Conclusion of “The Fault””

Communion from “The Fault”

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The confusion of cell phone alarms and plug-in clocks battling each other with beeps and MIDI ringtones woke them five hours later. She kicked off the duvet, jumping up to make coffee.

While he showered, she cooked an egg for herself, and pulled out a box of cereal out for him, then poured a glass of orange juice for herself. They traded places in the bathroom as soon as he walked out. When he entered the kitchen, he realized that she hadn’t set out the bowl, spoon, or milk. Yesterday she kissed him, last night they’d had sex, and today, she forgot to leave his food on the counter. Just when he thought he was beginning to read her again, she would forget things that had been routine for the past several years that even though they were mundane, foregoing them seemed like sacrilege. It was childish, he knew, to expect such service to continue forever, but it seemed that she had been purposeful—defiant, even—in doing something so incompletely that was for him.

He could only remember one other morning when she had forgotten breakfast. They were late for work and had run from their tiny apartment down the stairs because they realized it was nearly eight, and though they didn’t know much about the area, they knew the difference between the printed and the actual train schedule: what should take an hour would always take more. Having smoothly pressed pants took precedence over a healthy first meal of the day. To remedy the omission, as they were speed walking to the bus stop that drove them to the train, she insisted that he wait just a minute while she exchanged a handful of quarters for a cup of coffee poured into a Styrofoam cup and a huge, sticky glazed doughnut to a nearby vendor.

Grinning, she hustled to keep up with him and balanced the pastry atop the cup. They barely caught the bus but were lucky to find a seat open. She took the window seat, jamming her tote between her legs and the wall to free her hands for distributing the elements. The edible lid kept most of the coffee from sloshing out, but the coffee soaked the underside of the doughnut so much that by the time they could eat it, it had half-dissolved. Giving him their cup to hold, she broke their bread in haste, dividing it equally as possible. While he sipped the burnt and already chilling coffee, she licked the glaze from her fingers. They took turns passing the coffee between them, both commenting on how bad it was, yet she insisted it was “romantic” to eat breakfast on the bus. He agreed with her, and reached into her space, grabbing for the remaining soggy bit of doughnut that she held in her right hand. Immediately, she popped it in her mouth and swallowed it, trying to keep from snorting it while she laughed at her victory and their play.

Continue reading “Communion from “The Fault””

When her bones crack, from “The Fault”

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Photo by Jimmy Bay

That evening she was wearing her tights again, but this time she skipped dinner to begin exercising at the studio. She thought she’d leave the house before he returned, but that day, he didn’t come home late. Just as she was lacing her tennis shoes, the loud rubbery smack of the front door frame insulation startled her.

The kitchen wall clock read five forty-five.

“You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?” he said, as he reached to grab her hair that was wound into the fist–bun again.

She batted at his hand, insisting that he was “messing it up.”

“I’m growing out my bangs, so it took forever just to get it all up, okay?”

Mark smiled and apologized for his junior high flirting that still crept into their interactions from time to time. Although he knew it was more annoying than affirming, it was a remnant of their dating days when she learned that he wasn’t really all that funny at all—just charming and thoughtful in the same way small sons can be when they’ve been told that they’re good. It was that brand of corniness that was somehow simultaneously boyish and paternal that was occasionally endearing but never sexy.

She resumed tying her shoes.

“You’re still going to leave?”

When she didn’t answer, he offered to make dinner.

“Maybe we could watch a movie or I’ll rub your back.”

This sudden interest surprised her, so she hesitated in collecting her bag and keys. Her cheeks colored when she observed his obvious intent, but it drained when she looked at him. He tried again. Continue reading “When her bones crack, from “The Fault””

“The Fault,” contd.

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Photo by Quin Stevenson

The dish had shattered into such tiny fractures that there seemed to be blue dust all over the kitchen floor and spread to the adjacent living room carpet.

On her hands and knees, collecting the little missiles, she thought about how maybe this wasn’t entirely her fault. After all, she’d been working more too. She’d been the one to say they should wait a few more years to have kids. Maybe he saw that as her pulling back. No kids after seven years when you’re perfectly healthy means that you don’t find the prospect of multiplication romantic.

They were two bodies of water unmoving, stagnated into one, isolated lonely gulf. Even though she liked the image, she began to see other options. She asked herself if maybe their marriage were like land — a land formed on a fault, just waiting for the plates to shift enough so that something would finally break.

I am nothing but his fault, she thought.

As she gathered the pieces of broken glass in her cupped hand, some of the shards splintered into her palm, enough to draw pinpricks of blood smaller than tear sheet perforations. She dusted the remaining pieces into the sink and turned on the garbage disposal.

Now the eggs were overdone and a green-gray halo had formed around the chalky yolks.

Tuna salad on rye with tomatoes, though filling, wasn’t too heavy with only an hour of down time before working out.

When he finally came home, he didn’t look tired, and he didn’t make any excuses. Instead, he hung up his navy blazer and immediately asked her if there was any dinner left before he’d removed his Oxfords. Continue reading ““The Fault,” contd.”

When I found the iron that sharpened me, and he dropped “f” bombs at church

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photo by Kendall Lane

Having grown up in the church, I knew the rules about dating long before giving out my first phone number. First, and most important, I had to find a Christian to date. When I found one in youth group or young adult Bible study, we would both abstain from premarital sex while we built the foundation of a healthy relationship that would carry us through marriage. At worst, it would end in an amicable breakup because God was leading us elsewhere. It seemed so straightforward.

Looking back, I find that idea laughable not because I don’t think that’s a good plan, but because that wasn’t my experience. Dating was complicated, especially when the Christian label was just that: a tag for people, including me, to wear to look like we were doing the right thing. For me, it got even more confusing when I found dating non-Christians easier and safer. Yet by the time I decided I had to get serious about finding a Christian spouse, I was sure most Christian guys I pursued would find me too bitter and heavy with emotional damage to risk a date.

As mentioned previously, I always knew I was supposed to date Christians, and committed ones, too — no rookies. I thought being “equally yoked” meant finding a cradle Christian who knew Bible stories and went to church camp (2 Corinthians 6:14). Non-believers, naturally, were out of the question. Despite believing this, I mistrusted it before I was allowed to date. At 15, I discovered the hard way that too many Christians aren’t all that different from non-Christians, and it disappointed and frustrated me to know that I wasn’t safe around someone just because he said he was a believer and played in a worship band. If a Christian would take what he wanted from me without my permission, why would I differentiate him from the vast group of potential mates out there?

Continue reading “When I found the iron that sharpened me, and he dropped “f” bombs at church”

Celebrate with an Artist of the Beautiful

People write about love in its beginning and ending stages. There’s passion, lust, flirtation, heartache, and longing. Yet there is an incredible dearth of songs written for people who actually work through relationships long enough to truly celebrate.

Continue reading “Celebrate with an Artist of the Beautiful”

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