"What's for dinner, Marje?"
It was a simple thing to ask, and Bill didn’t even consider the ramifications of asking it before the words spilt from his mouth, because it didn’t occur to him that there could be any ramifications to such a simple question. Every day, since the night after their wedding, he’d asked the same question just around four-o-clock and today, of course, was no different. At least not for Bill it wasn’t.
For Margaret though, perhaps this was just the last straw, hearing her husband ask her this for what was likely the millionth time in their eighteen years together. Perhaps it was the nonchalant way he asked the question, as if she had at any point that day said to him or alluded to the suggestion that she was going to prepare dinner that night, or as though he had no reason to believe that maybe he should make it for a change. Perhaps it was that while he sat on the couch watching the television without a care, she was in the kitchen cleaning, just like she had done every day since the morning after they’d moved in together. For eighteen years she’d taken care of him as though that was what she’d promised to do in their wedding vowels all those years ago. And for eighteen years he’d let her, never once thinking that it was possible that he should take care of her for once.
For eighteen years, Margaret had forfeit the life she’d always wanted – the road-trips, the new home in the quiet neighborhood, the parties the entire block was invited to, the job she’d spent so many years in school for, and outings with her friends had all been left as second to her husband, because she foolishly thought that one day she’d be able to pick it all back up again, just like an old book, and she’d be able to start over again right where she left off. Instead, eighteen years later Margaret was still here cleaning up after a man who insisted on remaining a little boy, a man who never stopped to realize that his wife had expectations as well, and that perhaps it was his turn to forfeit a dream of his in exchange for a dream of hers.
Then again, it was possible that he'd done nothing wrong, at least not this time. It was possible that Margaret was just incredibly tired from eighteen years of marriage to a man whom she'd stopped loving thirteen years ago. It was a long time to spend with a person whom you have no desire to waste even a second of your day with, and whom you certainly don’t want to wake up next to every morning. Perhaps it was simply all the frustration that she’d let build up for entirely too long, bottling it in and apologizing when what she really wanted to do was to scream as loud as she could for letting him take the best years of her life away from her.
Whatever it was though, Margaret stopped what she was doing. She'd been in the middle of taking a bowl out of the cupboard, and as he said this it fell to the floor, breaking into a million irretrievable pieces that briefly reminded her of their marriage. As she bent to pick up what she could and he remained on the same chair watching the football game without even turning to make sure she was alright, just as he had every day for as long as she could remember knowing him, she suddenly stopped.
This wasn’t the life Margaret had dreamed of. Spending her days cleaning, and catering to a forty-three year old man with no backbone or reason to continue living was not what she’d bargained for when she’d said “I do” all those years ago. When she’d put on that white gown, Margaret had been filled with dreams and hopes and expectations, and over the span of their marriage it had all evaporated like a puddle of water that nobody pays much attention to as they pass over it.
What Margaret wanted was a reason for her to live - someone who wanted to make her happy, not who wanted her to make them happy. She wanted to remember what it meant to enjoy life, or just time to figure out what a marriage was supposed to be, because surely this wasn’t it. Nobody would dream of a life like this one the way that little girls dreamt of their wedding day. Nobody would dream of spending their days monotonously cleaning up after a man they can’t bring themselves to care about for even a second, or of falling asleep next to a man whose mere appearance was bothersome. Perhaps it was a late start and possibly even a little unwarranted in the current situation, but at this point she was beyond a care and she certainly didn’t have the capacity to care for what this would do to him.
Something had flipped a switch inside of her, and Margaret was suddenly very exhausted with her current place in life. She wanted nothing to do with the stack of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, or the load of permanent press that needed to be moved to the dryer before it started to smell. She wanted to forget entirely about the bathroom floor that needed to be cleaned, and the living room rug that needed to be vacuumed. Most of all, she didn’t want to ever be reminded of the pot roast she’d just slipped into the oven, of the unanswered question her husband had just asked her.
Standing back up and leaving the broken pieces of their wedding china on the kitchen floor, Margaret turned and walked out the back door, leaving it swinging behind her while her husband sat in the house they no longer shared, unaware that she wasn't going to be coming back this time.
Originally, this was a half a page long short short story I wrote, and I loved it, so I used it as the basis for my story for class. However, I'm not sure how I feel about this version. (FYI, it's 3 pages, double spaced)
Thanks again for reading :)