She hadn’t spoken a word in days. Not an utterance had passed her lips...
'Til Death Do Us Part
She hadn’t spoken a word in days. Not an utterance had passed her lips—not even to remark on the odor that was spreading a palpable maleficence throughout the entire house. Each breath he took speared his lungs with a gust of sour air.
“You expect me to do it all,” The man spat vitriol as he prepared coffee. Crooked fingers, warped from years of hard labor, violently fished sugar cubes from a stubborn box—a brand that he quite despised. Why did she always insist upon this one? “I work all day. I come home to you sitting around doing nothing. Least you could’ve done after all these years is give me a kid. You can’t even do that. Useless. What are you good for?”
She combated him with an aggressive, stifling silence. Of course. The man clucked his tongue against his teeth and worked a spoon into his drink. One sip confirmed that it tasted exactly the same as it had the day before—like shit.
His joints ached rebelliously upon sliding back into a rickety armchair beside her. Beady eyes stared straight ahead, studying the faded floral wallpaper that framed the kitchen window. His wife had placed it years ago, right after they’d gotten married, effectively sealing their small home with whimsy and zeal. She loved those garden prints. They’d promised that each daughter birthed would be named after a flower. Tulip, Rose, and Daffodil sequentially. And yet, their dreams had hardly flowered to fruition, wilting upon discovering her infertility. His wife was barren. She’d never be able to give him children. Their marriage began to breed a necrosis, deadening them from the inside out, never allowing them to recover. He grew angry; embittered irrevocably by his fate. And his wife? She began to deteriorate beyond his recognition.
The man brought his coffee cup to his chafed lips. The rough taste was more bearable this time than it had been before. He suddenly decided that it was fine.
“You think you have it worse than me?” He growled. Accusatory eyes swiveled in her direction, regarding her with a virulent disdain. “Is that why you sit around sulking all damn day? You think you have it worse? Try working like me every single day. Let’s see--” He croaked, seizing up as a series of sickly coughs shook his thin frame, “Let’s see how you’d handle one day in my shoes!”
The man sniffled, finally recovering with a soft breath. The very least she could do was smile. The sunlight, cold and stark gray as it was, did very little for her complexion. His wife used to be beautiful. Alabaster, prim, and delicate. Now wrinkles carved sunken hollows into her cheeks, molding her face into ghastly shadows. When did she stop taking care of herself? Was it when he stopped calling her beautiful? Was it when he stopped telling her that he loved her? When was the last time that he’d kissed those acrid lips of hers?
He was briefly betrayed by a surge of guilt, and his stomach tightened, cramping painfully as he fought to resurrect his justifications. This was all her fault. Their marriage was a torturous bind founded on lies; held together merely because death had yet to do them part. She sat before him, self-righteous and smug, gloating in her victory. She had trapped him!
“I do everything I can for you! What have you given me in return? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!” Spittle passed his lips in his mad fervor. The man swaggered to a stand, his long torso lingering over her, eyes bulging out of his sockets. “You’re not better than me. You’re not smarter than me. You’re nothing.”
He slammed his coffee onto the table with an ear shattering crack. Fire was running through his veins, quivering through his fingertips, and yet she refused humor him with a response. She was a barren whore. Barren in the body and mind; eternally cruel for reducing him to a frothing, manic mess. He hardly recognized himself! Before he could raise a hand, the man escape through the door, heading to work with his hands curled into white fists.
- - -
“I’ve been fired.”
He slumped defeatedly into his favorite armchair. His wife was, once again, concluding their one-sided interactions with her potent silence. For once he didn’t mind. The buzz of the day had left him worn and endowed with a decent day’s grime. The odor from the morning wasn’t too horrid, and he found himself content with the way the moonlight shimmered against his wife’s silver locks. He vaguely wondered what she’d done to them. They appeared less like broom straw.
“I’ve been told not to return. I’ll have to start looking for work elsewhere.”
Silence. Guilt and regret melded with the day’s lethargy, and he hunched forward, heaving a labored sigh to stave off the intensity. His words and thoughts from earlier in the day had undoubtedly been acerbic. She had not deserved the brunt of his frustrations. The man’s teeth pressed into his lower lip. He reached for her fragile hands, massaging her hard joints, a stray tear streaking a clean path down his dirtied face.
“I love you. I’ll never speak to you like that again. I’ll find work, we’ll start over. And you know what? We’ll get a kitten… and we can name her Tulip.”
His lips pressed to her crevasse of a cheek. Saying no more, the man smiled, finally carrying himself to bed.
- - -
She hadn’t uttered a single word in days—not even to remark on the putrid stench that was slowly but surely driving him insane.