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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2186218
A Show Don't Tell Entry
Word Count = 1101

I'd left at 5:30 in the morning for work. When I'd gone, Ruby had been asleep with one of the kids flopped and rumpled up tightly against her. No wonder I hadn't slept well. Dorian liked to kick and squirm in his sleep. I was sure I had bruises as I had gotten up and readied myself for the day.

The rest of the kids were asleep in their beds. That, at least, was a blessing.

When I left the sky was dark, ass crack dark. I could already feel the heaviness of the day. My body was still aching from the grind of yesterday and I knew today would not be any less demanding.

By the time I dragged my sorry ass home at the end of the day. I was ready to drop. My stomach rumbled in anticipation of Ruby's dinner. She was a great cook. My mouth watered at the anticipation of homemade bread and stew. She had said that was one of her plans for today, That and getting some of her writing done. She said she was almost finished her draft. If Jimmy, our youngest, took his nap, she'd have two hours to work on it. She'd been so excited about that.

But when I walked in the door, I was met with chaos. A retched stench greeted me and I almost gagged as I came in the side door. Looking down, I was greeted by mountains of laundry scattered all over the floor. The washer lid was open but no sound came from the machine.

"What the hell?" I muttered. I ground my teeth together. My nostrils flared as I pulled in sharp noisy, breaths to try to calm my pounding heartbeat. I pushed my way through the mess with sharp jerky movements.. Anticipation fled.

Moving forward, I noticed that some of the piles were sopping wet, probably used to soak up water from the floor. I decided to keep on my boots as I kicked my way through the debris and moved into the kitchen.

Here my senses were assaulted yet again. The retched smell had not abated, but now the heavy smell of burnt toast and eggs hung in the air.

My boot connected with a pot and sent it clattering across the floor. A swear ripped out. Looking down I noticed other pots scattered across the linoleum. Jimmy's potential drum set. My fists curled inward and I could feel my nails biting into my flesh. I felt my chest tighten and my jaw clamp tight.

My eyes took in the dishes piled high in the sink, abandoned. There was still food spattered all over the table. Cheerios were crushed into the floor. Milk pooled and dripped off the counter. A fried egg or what was left of a fried egg was left burned to the bottom of the frying pan.

What the hell had happened. I moved to thrust open the window. Then stood a moment to drag in lungful's of fresh air. I fought for sanity as my mind whirled.

Hearing the television, I moved into the living room to find Ruby sitting in front of the TV still dressed in her pajama T-shirt set.

"What the hell..." I yelled unable to contain my frustration, but stopped short when she swiveled to look at me. Her eyes were fiery… a little possessed. Exhaustion seemed to drip off her and as she took in my dark face and tight mouth.

She lashed out, her voice a cold hiss, "Don't you dare say a word. You haven't been here all day. All three of our little darlings have diarrhea and have been projectile vomiting. Each time I managed to get things cleaned up, someone else would hurl. Can't anyone make it to the toilet?" Her voice held an almost hysterical quality. Her rant continued, "No of course not. I've been thrown up on - three times. The bedding is all soiled.... including ours and the washer decided to give up the ghost... in the middle of a cycle! I had water pouring out and the technician can't come until Wednesday. I just managed to get the kids settled and asleep so if you wake them, they're all yours. This is the first moment I've had to sit and I just can't face another thing."

I looked down at my usually pulled together wife and felt the anger drain out of me. Even as she glared at me with looks that could slice me wide open, I felt the bubble of tension rise to the surface. As my laughter erupted, I saw her glare turn almost homicidal.

I grabbed my gut as the laughter spilled over, tumbling over and out. Uncontrolled and wild. I shook my head unable to stop, unable to apologize. I braced myself against the doorjamb. Tears streamed down my face and it was not long before I heard her own hysterically tainted giggle join mine.

"I'm sorry, Ruby." I wheezed out when I could finally catch my breath. "You win for worst day." I made my way over to the sofa and dropped down beside her as our chuckles mingled.

When we were finally spent, we sat a moment staring out across the room that looked like a hurricane had destroyed it. "I'll order pizza. You good with that?"

"I'd rather just go back to bed and forget this day even happened." Ruby muttered still shell shocked.

"You rest. I'll see what I can do about the washer."

Ruby nodded as I pushed myself up and made my way over to the phone to call in the pizza order. When I hung up I looked over to see Ruby had fallen over and curled herself into the fetal position. I pulled a blanket over her and headed out to the kitchen to try to put things back together. The weariness of my own day dragged at me, but I worked slowly.

By the time the pizza arrived, I had put the kitchen to rights and picked up all the laundry. I'd shoved it into garbage bags. Ruby would have to take the bags in to the laundromat tomorrow. With any luck the kids would all be well again and Dorian and Abby would be off to school. Jimmy could handle a few hours playing at the park while the clothes and sheets got cleaned and disinfected. We'd probably have to rent the carpet cleaner and do the carpets, but that could wait until the weekend. For now, we could leave the windows open and let the fresh air flow in.

Show Don't Tell Contest

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