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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””

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.”

A Preview of “The Fault”

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Photo by Catt Liu

It’s not that he’s always late, she thought. It’s that he never really seems in a hurry to get home—even when traffic’s bad.

The blue porcelain bowl was wet in her hands, and she dropped it into the strainer. She’d been home a half hour already and had wondered where the time had gone.

You hang up your coat, check your voice mails, and then open the fridge to decide what to eat for dinner. Some nights it’s stir fry, and sometimes it’s just pasta because all you have to do is dump some spaghetti sauce in a pan on low, and wait for the noodles to boil—maybe throw spinach in there to make sure there are vegetables.

She hadn’t gotten that far yet. And he hadn’t come home or called to say that traffic was bad or that he was working out at the gym across the street from his office before he came home. Sometimes, he said that’s what he was doing.

Pasta? Tonight? God. If he said anything, I could tell him he should get home sooner to help me. Our commutes have been the same distance for a couple of years now. Maybe he should be the one to throw something on the stove. They had pasta only three nights before, and she didn’t want to hear him complain or even wonder if he was withholding a groan about the recycled menu from last week. She decided on tuna.

Tuna. What a female food, she mused, as she pulled down the two cans of fish-in-water from the pantry shelf. For some reason, tuna is a woman’s food. Most men hate it, she continued, this time broadcasting her thoughts aloud to the empty home. Maybe they’re afraid to admit they like it. They are afraid. They are afraid to say they like the scent of it, because that’s always their chief complaint. All of the jokes spring from that one thing. Continue reading “A Preview of “The Fault””

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