Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

Fiction — Competition

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

There was an unstated competition between the man and the woman during the time before she left. Her goal was to stay stony and level; he measured his success by the amount of emotion he could compel her to display. Her strength was in silence, except when talking to their children; he found that asides and accusations would sometimes generate the results he wanted.

One evening she was out in the yard with the children, idly plucking weeds from amidst the grass stems as they played on the swing. She stiffened as the man emerged from the house and looked away, ignoring his presence until he strode to where she was sitting cross-legged on the lawn.

“We need to talk,” he said sternly, gazing down at her.

“Not now,” she replied, continuing to search for vagrant weeds. “Later, after the children are asleep.”

“Yes, now,” he said, and calling to the children sent them indoors to prepare for bed. Looking up she noticed them peeking through the back door and gestured them away.

The man stood, staring at her. The accusations began. She was despicable, how could she be so vile? Egregious behavior from an untrustworthy bitch. He towered above her as he spoke. She sat silently, continuing to pluck at the lawn even after twilight, seeking anything that wasn’t grass by touch alone.

How could she do this to him? How could she have concealed for so long what a revolting slimy character she had? He had been fooled, but no more. She would lose everything if she left, even…

The last phrase remained unfinished, and after a moment she looked up to see him staring at the door of the house where the oldest child was outlined by the light inside.

“Even what?” she asked in a steady tone.

“You know. You know who,” he replied and walking toward the house instructed their son to go away from the door.

She remained sitting on the grass, blanking her mind, waiting to see whether he would go inside. He returned and began speaking at her again, pacing in his agitation, voice rising and falling from a hiss to a near shout.

“Mommy! I need you!” called a high voice. “In a minute, sweetie,” she responded, remaining seated and still. She glanced at the house to see their son again at the door. She looked up at the man and said, “I am going in.”

“No, we are going to talk,” he answered and began again, telling her how she must be a genius to hide how duplicitous she was, how she was ruining his life, all their lives. She said nothing. He continued by stating how he would fight her to keep her from infecting their children with her psychotic sickness, how he would keep them safe from her.

The threat succeeded. Despite her best efforts at stoniness she broke and began to weep. She hung her head to conceal the tears that crept down her cheeks.

“Mommy, I really need you now!” The child’s voice echoed across the yard.

“Not now!” she cried back, “Go into the living room.” The pacing man noticed the huskiness in her voice and escalated his efforts until she was leaning over, hand to her mouth to muffle her sobs.

“Mommy!” There was a note of panic in the boy’s voice. “I really need you, Mommy, Mommy I need you!” She looked up, noticing the agitated child had been bold enough to come outside and was shifting from foot to foot in his anxiety next to the door.

Wiping her face on her sleeve she pushed herself up from the ground and went towards the boy. As she approached she noticed something was wrong with him, with the way he was awkwardly standing, the way his face was shaped. Taking his hand she drew him indoors, under the light. Their son was covered with hives, his eyes almost swollen shut, his skin erupting as a reflection of the stress of seeing his parents at such drastic odds.

She didn’t know what to do. The boy needed help beyond what her medicine cabinet contained. Should she take him and the other children to the emergency room so late at night? Should she leave the others home with their father, or would that imposition show him further how untrustworthy she was, what a terrible mother she was to aggravate her own son into such a dramatic reaction? She stood senseless, unable to cope with the decision of what to do. She didn’t know what to do.

“I will take him to the hospital,” the man said, concern in his voice, glancing at her. “Stay here with the others and go to bed.” He picked up the boy and in a moment the two had left to seek help. She remained standing at the back door for long moments, shamed into immobility by the thought that she had hurt her son by breaking down in the backyard.

There was an unstated competition between the man and the woman during the time before she left. That night there was no winner.