Cutting Words


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 the day.

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, Henry.”

“There’s nobody here,” he scoffed.  “Are you hearing things now, too?”

The back door opened.  Henry looked up.  Half-rose from his chair.  “Mother!  What a surprise!  What are you doing here?”

“Listening to you crazy talk.”

“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 and triumph.

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.

This was written in response to this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Cutting Words

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cutting Words


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 the day.

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, Henry.”

“There’s nobody here,” he scoffed.  “Are you hearing things now, too?”

The back door opened.  Henry looked up.  Half-rose from his chair.  “Mother!  What a surprise!  What are you doing here?”

“Listening to you crazy talk.”

“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 and triumph.

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.

This was written in response to this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  

Labels: ,

6 Comments:

At January 3, 2012 at 3:08 PM , Anonymous Carrie said...

interesting idea that words have so much power. I love that the mother broke the spell. I wonder if she experienced similar with Henry's father...

 
At January 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Thanks, Carrie!

 
At January 3, 2012 at 10:32 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

Awesome and refreshing as always!

 
At January 4, 2012 at 7:50 AM , Anonymous Satu Gustafson said...

Nice twist with the mother. Makes you wonder about the kind of relationship Henry had with her. Maybe he was at the receiving end of her cutting words?

 
At January 6, 2012 at 9:32 PM , Anonymous barbara said...

I work with men who are batterers - by that I mean I cofacilitate the class they are court ordered to attend. You have your finger right on the power of an emotionally abusive man. Well done! (sadly so)

 
At January 10, 2012 at 2:09 AM , Anonymous Trifecta said...

Thanks for joining up again, Kelly. This is quite different from your previous submissions and it shows your vesatility. I especially liked the dialogue in this one which really helped to the reader to imagine the scene. NIce job, and looking forward to next week.

 

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