Henry felt his lip curl
into a sneer. His wife had styled her
hair so carefully. Applied her makeup
perfectly. “You look like shit, Joan.”
Her face crumpled in upon
itself, reminding Henry of his toothless coal miner grandfather, the
grandfather he'd tried to forget.
Satisfied, Henry smiled
and returned to his meatloaf. His words,
he knew, were magical. With one word, he
could discourage his wife. With an
entire sentence, he could strike her down and keep her there for the rest of
She shoved aside her
dinner and looked him square in the eye.
She lifted her chin. Crossed her
arms. “I’m quitting you.”
He laughed. “You can’t quit me, Joan. If you mean
that you’ll divorce me, you forget
that I will have custody of Jess if you try.”
“Henry, I…” She brought a hand up to tuck a stray hair
behind her ear. She really was quite
lovely when she was frightened.
“You signed the paperwork. You, my dear, are a rather incapable woman.”
“Somebody’s at the door,
“There’s nobody here,” he
scoffed. “Are you hearing things now,
The back door
opened. Henry looked up. Half-rose from his chair. “Mother!
What a surprise! What are you
“Listening to you crazy
“Oh, I’m just funnin’…” He felt his disciplined tongue slip back into
the speech he’d worked so hard to lose.
“Seems like you be the
only one laughing.”
Henry looked at his
plate, felt his cheeks redden. “Joan, I’m sorry. I wadn’t…”
Joan looked at him. Laughed out loud. It was a wide-mouthed laugh. It was a sloppy laugh. It was a show-all-of-your teeth kind of
laugh. It was, Henry knew, a laugh of celebration
Henry’s mother had broken
the spell. Henry’s mother had set Joan
free. Henry’s cutting words had lost
their magic. And all Henry could do was
set by and watch while his lovely wife laughed.
Labels: flash fiction, Trifecta Writing Challenge