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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Comedy · #2318356
To him, it's just a sneeze. To her, it's torture.
Robert had done it again. Renee left the room the second his sneezing started. He never understood why she took such offense to a common thing that everybody did. Besides, it’s not like he could control it. It was sneeze, that was it.

Ten minutes later she returned and sat in the recliner next to him without a word.

It would’ve been nice if she apologized, or picked up their prior conversation, but nope. Not a peep.

He knew what he was about to do would get a rise out of her, but he couldn’t help himself. So he picked up the remote and started channel surfing. Two seconds on this channel, three on the next, back to two, then five, over and over again until he felt her eyes on him. It was that glare that said if he didn’t stop, he was in for it.

Finally, he stopped and turned toward her. “You know I can’t help it.”

She turned her head toward the television. “I’m aware.”

He laughed, the cold shoulder was coming. He could do nothing about it, except return it to her.

He put on an old rerun they’d seen a dozen times.

She sighed. “Is this all that’s on?”

He ignored her, laughing with the audience at the lame joke. He could practically say every line of this show if he wanted to, but thought better of it. That would get under her skin for sure.

Five minutes later, he sneezed. Not once, not twice, but three times in a row. Renee got up from the chair and headed toward the kitchen, cell phone in hand.

“You know, you could break the sound barrier with that high-pitched sneeze you got going on,” she called.

“So you keep telling me,” he muttered.

She ignored the remark and returned to sit beside him again. Busy on her phone, he continued to watch the show he’d put on. As they sat silently, he wondered how long this stalemate would last. He hated it when they had nothing to say to one another. This wasn’t his idea of a lovely evening at home with his wife.

Oh, God. He felt it, tickling the back of his nose, preparing to be released, sending Renee running again. He closed his eyes, trying to stop it before it started, but holding back a sneeze would be like holding back the tide–impossible.

His sneeze came strong, the first one he expected her to run, but the second one hit, and she remained seated, then the third one. When the sneezing fit had passed he turned to look at her.

“Got it,” Renee said.

He was puzzled. What did she get?

The next thing he knew, he heard it. Himself. Sneezing, the sound so ear piercing he winced.

“Damn!” he uttered.

“Exactly,” Renee said.

Robert shook his head. “Still, I can’t help it.”

“I don’t know how often you want me to tell you I know that. I get it. But you must realize that when you sneeze, my ears hurt like an ice pick stabbing straight into my ears, and into my skull.” Renee played the audio again. And then once again to drive her point across.

“Well when you put it like that,” he said.

WC: 544

Prompt 6: What happens when you sneeze
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