"You mustn't be so upset, dear." she heard him snivel next to her, "It's nothing. Dont upset yourself. It isnt good for your blood pressure. The doc said so just last week."
She glared at him, the fury inside her beginning to build up. He cud sense it coming, this explosion, "Darling, what if you had a coronary? It wud be so upsetting!" was all he cud manage.
"You're a rat, you know that?" she spat. "Vermin. Vermin with a fleshy bank account."
"Sweetheart, please dont shout here. The driver will hear us." he begged.
"You shud be glad I dont walk out. The money you'd have to pay me!" She was being savage now.
"But, but I love you. You're my wife. I always come back to you. You know this, I've said it a hundred times." he pleaded after her as she slammed the car-door before she stalked thru the gate.
"It is only the children that kept me here. But now they're gone off, studying, living in their own worlds. I am done with you. We're finished!" she yelled as she threw herself onto the sofa, shaking with anger.
"We dont have to talk about it now, dear. You just calm down. It's not a big deal! I'll just freshen up and order some ice-cream. That'll cool you down."
He stopped, turning briefly to look at her, lying back on the sofa with her eyes closed, her hand quivering over her heart as though she were physically heartbroken. And for a moment he almost saw the sadness wrapped around her like an itchy blanket with far too many holes. But incapable of such simile in thought, he pushed the idea away and walked into their bedroom. He wondered how she always threatened to leave him but never did, guessed at why and knew. Somewhere in her heart, she loved him. He had loved her, too, as best he possibly cud.
He thought about his own mother. How his mother and father and their life together had been the picture of the perfect, lived-in domesticity.
He thought also about how he had congratulated himself in the beginning, on having married this spitfire of a woman who'd been his secretary, when his first wife, his dutifully obedient wife had died of an illness, leaving two children behind to be raised. He had admired the efficiency and meticulousness of this woman, inspite of being more than a little afraid of her temper.
He felt a small twinge of guilt, wondered if he'd really hurt her with his, ahem, indiscretions all these years but then, he changed his mind. Of course, not. He had given her more than anything she cud possibly have dreamed of having in her old life.
But her anger. He wished he cud tame that fiery beast she carried around in her breast. He smirked to himself as he considered the picturesqueness of this particular metaphor and stalked into the living room.
She lay there on the sofa, head thrown back haughtily, eyes still closed. Atleast she wasnt shouting.
"Darling, just give me a chance to explain myself."
She said nothing. He continued, "I have never been able to control my emotions. You know that. I love you and nothing can change that. No woman can change that. You have been a good mother to my children. Our children. You ran this household so well. Its just that I..I have a weakness, everyone does."
He expected her to turn around and yell some more about what exactly she thought of this weakness of his.
She didnt. She only let her hand fall away from her chest.
He decided it was best to go on placating her while she allowed him to.
"I understand if you dont want to talk to me right now. But I really do hope that nothing between us will change."
More silence. He was starting to get a little irritated. "If you want, I'll work on it. But I'm too old, too set in my ways. If you made yourself a little more attractive. Your breath is a little, umm, unpleasant, sometimes, but its that ulcer you have. And you have grown rather plump these last few years."
He was certain that wud draw a reaction. But she continued, eyes closed, face turned coldly away. She had absolutely nothing to say, so he continued to talk at her. She had probably meant what she'd said. She was done with him and nothing wud change her mind. He was not used to such stubborn distantness from his wife.
"My first wife was a good woman, too. But she was different from you. Poor sweet soul, may she rest in peace!" He felt silly standing there, leaning against the doorway. He walked to the sofa, no longer so threatened by his wife's rage, a little terrified of her determination to say nothing to him till he left her.
"Please. Darling, please change your mind. I wont do it again. I promise. I swear upon my heart and soul."
Perhaps she was thinking about how he'd said these same words or a variation of them a dozen times before. Perhaps she thought, this was how he degraded her, pushed her a little further, dragged her lower, to see if she wud break now, wud give up now. He realised that now she truly had given up. Given up on him that is.
He rose, bitter now, his voice quaking. "Alright, have it your way. But you havent been a good wife to me. You've screeched and nagged your way in this house. You've made threats and you always had your way in the end. My dear father always said, a good wife listens quietly, and does all to please her husband. You have refused to listen to me. You have never attempted to please me!"
He noticed as he stood over her that her pudgy cheeks were streaked with dried tearstains but he cud no longer bring himself to care. He cud show her he cud be cruel, too.
"There is no point in tears, stupid woman! I shud be the one to cry! You have taken from me the best years of my life and a whole lot more of my money! I wish to God you wud go away! No wait, I shall go away from here myself. Good riddance to bad rubbish, huh?"
He stormed out the room but hesitated momentarily at the door, lingering in the certainty that she wud stop him and bargain with him, like she'd done a million times before. But she didnt call out to him.
Hot tears stung his own eyes now as he slammed the door behind him and once outside, leaned heavily against it, realising that he was too old for shouting matches and slamming doors.
Shouting match, well, atleast this time it had been just him doing the shouting. But that scarcely lessened the bitterness and self-righteous anger that welled up inside him now.
"Oh God, why dont you just die?" he cudnt stop himself shouting at the closed door before he climbed, shaking, down the stairs.
Inside, she lay perfectly still. In silence while her husband had ranted and raved around her.
One wonders why her husband had left her like this. Why had he failed to notice that in her silence, she had been the good wife he'd claimed he wanted? Why hadnt he appreciated that he had not heard her screech these past minutes nor smelled her bad breath?
No, he had not noticed this about her. Just as he had not noticed that her heart had stilled long minutes before her tears had dried.
Husbands notice so little about the women who are their wives, dont they?