"So you're actually going to sit there all night and not talk to me. Well, fine," the woman sighed and began filing a third nail. She paused to gauge his reaction, and upon seeing her husband consciously ignore the very fact that she'd just spoken, she crossed her legs and huffed. The red silken robe that boldly clung on and off her body in all of the right places maintained her decency as she tapped a bare leg impatiently.
When the woman's seventh nail had been trimmed down to the same kind of languid perfection found on the other six, the woman realized that the suffocating silence of the room would not cure itself. She chucked the poor nail file into some obscure area of the bedroom, sat back on the bed and began to burn holes into the back of her husband's skull. 'I can't believe he's just sitting there. Ignoring me. All goddamn night. I cooked dinner -- I cooked dinner! Me! Not the maid or any of the restaurants on the boulevard.'
The woman's internal rant only escaladed as she thought about it more. 'I wore the absolutely gorgeous Chaille LeMar bandage dress, got Pablo to blow out my hair -- I even touched up my highlights and he hasn't said a goddamn thing. You're such a dick, Yori. Such a fucking dick. But nooooooooo, since I'm not at the fucking war table, waving my stick around with the big boys and making decisions that matter, everything I do is meaningless. And then you have the goddamn nerve, after working for fourteen freaking hours today, to come home, ignore it all and take the kids to the goddamn park.' She could no longer bear glaring at the back of his head and rolled to the side to face the window. It was snowing, and even the cheerful, lilting snowflakes could not improve her mood. 'Come back from the goddamn park and not say a single word to me. Inconsiderate asshole.'
The man sat hunched over in front of the large dresser and mirror setup that defined a portion of their room. He looked defeated and red-eyed, and appeared to be shouldering a burden larger than he could carry or that others could understand. In fact, he could not understand why. He slowly slid his arms onto the marble chiffonier, bent them and held his face within their cradle. He switched to rubbing his forehead as if in pain with his left hand and loosening his tie with his right. His right hand then rested upon his knee.
"You're a dick, you know that?" said the woman standing suddenly, with slightly disheveled blonde waves greeting her collarbone in the upstart. "Fucking inconsiderate asshole," she bit out while walking behind him, "But you know what? Who gives a damn, it's your goddamn birthday, neverfreakingmind all the things I did to try and make it special." The last three words of anger were emphasized with nagging little pokes in between the man's shoulder blades. "Leah, stop it. Just... Stop it. Inching towards death is not a cause of celebration. I'm a year older than I was last year, and a year younger than I will be come this time next year. You're older than me, you should know this..." Yori spat out through a tight jaw and clenched teeth.
That last little comment of his nearly made Leah well up with anger again, but it was a comment nevertheless, and she was just happy to get him talking. You can't get a proper apology from someone if they refuse to speak, you know. Leah swept her husband's ink black hair off of his back, and rubbed small and soft circles into the places where she had just poked him. “Yori. Stop being so selfish, babe. I cooked and had everything set up so nicely, so that we could celebrate us, even if you didn't want to celebrate you. I got all dressed up and was so excited, and you wouldn't even look at me." Her full and still-painted lips curved into a pout one could only call luscious, and she was well-aware of that fact as she leaned over her husband's shoulder to gaze at them both in the mirror. 'Goodness, I need to touch up my eye shadow. And brush my hair,' she thought as she draped long, pleasantly tanned arms over her husband's shoulders.
A mirthless chuckle accompanied the slow shaking of Yori's head, as he looked into the mirror for a split-second, and then averted his eyes. "I don't understand it. How I'm the selfish one... How you could..." He trailed off, shaking his head still. "I love you, Leah, I really do. So much. I'd take a thousand bullets and then some for you and I love coming home every day to you and the kids. Everything I do... I do for you and for them." His own white-knuckled grip tightened on his knee. "I can only wonder if everything you do is for us," he finally ground out, lifting his stormy blues to meet her teal-pale greens.
It was Leah's turn to look away, her inability to hold his gaze disguised in a playful roll of the eyes. "Yori, that's a stupid question. Of course, everything I do is for us. Us..." She began slipping the buttons of his dress shirt out of their loops, "Well, us is a beautiful thing." Leah casually removed his tie.
Yori forcefully and shakily exhaled, but calmly removed her hands from the fourth button on his shirt. "No," he whispered and stood up. Yori mechanically moved her hands to her sides and released her. He looked at the burgundy carpet beneath their feet, in their room, their house, their home and trapped Leah in his gaze once more. "Mind telling me how spreading your legs for him helped us?" Yori dropped the words between them and watched his wife's carefree-coy masquerade join those very words on the floor.
Caught off guard and panicking, Leah tried to recover and assemble a guiltless smile, and failed spectacularly at doing so. Her usual smooth and sensual and oh so certain voice stammered and painted her hands red, "Wh-wh-what are you talking about, babe? Surely you aren't still talking about what happened between Michael and I before. That was three years ago, Yori! We talked about it, I changed and then we moved on. C'mon, you couldn't possibly be still upset about that." Leah moved to tap him sweetly on the chest, but after considering his last response to physical contact, refrained from doing so. She instead walked over to the window and placed her hand upon that, feeling the December cold seep in through the panes, like noxious venom slowly radiating throughout one's body. Like the toxic swathes of chilled guilt setting in around her heart.
"You're right, I'm not upset about what happened three years ago. I'm upset about what happened three days ago." Yori's gaze followed Leah's new move towards the window, before his gaze again dropped to the floor. "...You know what you did."
Leah flipped her hair. "You were at that UN conference three days ago, you weren't even here. Just what are you talking about, Yori? I hope that you haven't let anyone else making up shit about me poison your thoughts about me. You said you loved me, didn't you?"
"Leah, I left for the conference three days ago—“
"Well, duh, it means the same thing," Leah cut off the soft baritone of her husband with her own alto quips.
"Leah, when I'd left for the airport,” he started again, “I realized that I'd forgotten a suitcase and so I turned around to come back and get it. I came in through the side door because I'd left it in the sunroom and that door was closer." A small sad smile etched its way onto his face. "You couldn't hear me, but I could hear you. And when I looked around the corner, I could see you too." Yori's voice broke. "How could you? And... Just, why?"
Leah closed her eyes and pursed her lips. She folded her arms and walked past Yori into the master bath, knowing that his gaze, hurting and disbelieving, now singed her backside. Yori followed her slowly and stood at the beautiful division between the bed and bath rooms that so contrasted with the ugliness between the room's occupants. Leah emerged from the bathroom with a rose pink brush, and pushed past her husband to sit at the vanity. "How I did it was very easy... Not too different from how I do it with you, actually," she avowed sardonically, as she lifted the brush to her hair. "And you should know why, Yori. You're always at work or with the kids, never with me." The smirk that had marred her face was replaced with an equally detractive scowl as she said this. "He was here, you weren't. You know, for all that they call you a genius or whatever the hell, you sure are dumb about some things, Yori. Honestly, you're thirty now, you should be able to keep up with grown ups."
What was left of his heart, his soul, him, hung shattered in the deepest parts of his body. The shards themselves were surely shearing through whatever had yet to be torn through by her words. "You are such a bitch... I do right by you in every way that I know how... And this is all you ever do. You just, you just hurt me, Leah!" Yori's anger and sadness visibly shivered through him. "I used to think the world of you. Th-that you were a beautiful person, inside and out, that I could and wanted to spend the rest of my life with." He shook his head a few more times, watching Leah mindlessly tend to her hair, "You... You... You're heartless."
Leah sighed and arched a brow, "All done." She set the brush down on the dresser, and stood up. "I am not heartless, Yori. I'm very sensitive, actually. And your words really hurt me," she proclaimed, while moving to stand directly in front of Yori. "And you say that you love me! You don't really love me. No one that loves someone would say that to them." She turned away, feigning dejection and beginning to wrap her husband around her finger again.
"Leah... I do love you. So much it hurts. P-please don't turn away from me," he swallowed and softly grasped her chin, turning her face towards him. "I-I didn't mean it and I'm sorry... Please look at me, please." He wrapped his other arm around her and pulled her closer, "I'm sorry that I've been gone so often... It's just that the uprising near the border has everyone working nonstop to try and mediate the military and international boundary issues. You know if I had a choice, I'd be here."
Leah gave Yori an incentivizing smile when he rested his hand on the small of her back. "Oh, would you now? You know something... You're here now," she purred and wrapped her arms around his lithe but regal neck. She began fingering through his hair and reeled him in further, standing on tiptoe to breathe in his ear, "I think I'll accept your apology if you show me how much you love me and love being here."
'I hate that she thinks that... That this is only thing that shows love...' Yori's wistful thoughts stayed in his head, as he truly wished to make amends with his wife. "Okay..." He managed to stammer out, before Leah's lips fiercely met his, and he was left to respond just as fervently.
© Copyright 2016 Harper Teale. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Romance
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