What I Meant To Say

“Why did you say that?” He asks abruptly.

“Say what?” I ask casually as I flick my hair back in annoyance. I push my hip out a little and rest my hand on it.

I refuse to back down.

He’s not going to win this time.

My eyes skip across our shared home. Behind my husband is a photo of us at the San Diego zoo last year. His arm is lovingly draped over my shoulder. White toothy grins are splashed across our faces. In the photo we stand at the front, and in the background is a panda bear. He is reclined against a tree and leisurely chews on a stick.

Another photo of us on our wedding day is proudly displayed on our fireplace mantel. The sun was warm that day even though it rained on us. My mother said to me, people say if it rains on your wedding day, its lucky!

I huffed. I pushed my drenched veil back as black mascara ran down my face. I snapped at her, I think that’s something people made up recently, so when it rains on your wedding day, you don’t feel like your marriage is doomed from the start!

“Why did you say that?” He annoyingly asks a second time.

He shifts uneasily from one foot to the other while staring down at our ceramic tiles.

Nothing screams lack of confidence, than a person who refuses to make eye contact. It’s one of his less appealing habits that he displays from time to time. When we’re having a fight like this one and he does it – it will push me a little further to say things I don’t mean.

My face twists. Thanks to him, I’m certain every one of my wrinkles is visible. I probably look like a Bulldog.

“BECAUSE IT’S TRUE!” I explode with rage.

“So, what you’re saying…. is that because I don’t do the dishes, it means I don’t love you?” He asks incredulously.

His uneasiness has disappeared. His eyes stare at me. It’s as if he’s trying to break my will with that “look.” He’s challenging me.

Stubbornly, I refuse to budge.

“Yes!” I scream.

“And…I NEVER DO THE DISHES?” He asks in a raised voice as the words splinter apart near the end.

“YES!” I counter his dramatic tone.

Even as I answer the last question, I know it’s an exaggeration on the back of a small version of the truth. It’s like on our wedding day when I declared, our wedding is ruined! Look at my hair! And your suit! We look like drowned rats!

Our wedding wasn’t ruined. White linen was draped over the tables and chairs. Red rose petals were scattered across each one of the tables. The centerpiece was made up of a single red rose surrounded by baby’s breath. The rose produced a sweet smell whenever you came close to the table. Beside the vase, was a single candle that created an even more romantic and calm atmosphere.

My new husband at the time, stood before me. His black hair glimmered from the dampness as water droplets slipped down his forehead and cheeks. He took one hand and pushed his hair back. Then he said something, and I started laughing. Something about how he wished I had worn a white t-shirt….

“I have to go to work.” The same man announces as he grabs his lunch bag with one hand, and pushes his tie to the side with the other.

I stand there motionless.

I won’t move.

Not a muscle.

My mind scurries around grabbing together the facts as I know them to be true.

I want to say: I’m sorry. I exaggerated. But really, when you said you do JUST as much as I do, was that the truth?  I know you’re tired, and you’re working a lot. I know my job’s not going well. I know you’re worried about money. I know I’m worried about my sister.

Let’s start again.

Instead I say in a miserable, dismissive, I-don’t-care tone, “FINE.”

He’s standing at our front door. He places one hand on the doorknob and swings his head in my direction. His eyes linger on me for a few minutes too long.

I always give him a goodbye kiss.

Not today.

He won’t win.

The doorknob turns. He swings the door open, disappears through it, and slams it behind him.

Once the echo of uttered angry words stops, and the ringing sound of a slamming door ends, quiet descends.

In the kitchen, I stand, alone.

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