Gouda cheese, fresh baked bread, and home-made jam are the necessities of life. If you don’t have these things, well-; what’s the point of it all?
At the front of a six-bedroom grey brick stone house is a $100,000 black BMW that sits on the interlocking stone driveway. A corner lot property, the house is nestled on five acres of woods: This all belongs to Mark and Barbara Raystone.
The exterior of the house dates back to the late 1800’s when Mr. Elijah Nettie, who was a Superior Court Judge in Ontario, lived in the home. Mr. Nettie wore his black robe to court while he applied his white law to every man and woman. He was good at it some said: well, good at applying the law with a particular rigidness that was commonplace back then. No exceptions to the rules. After all, rules were meant to be followed.
When Mark and Barbara purchased it in the spring of 2009 at the end of the stock market crash for a deal, they gutted the place and rebuilt the house. But the face of the house, the shell of it, remains the same.
“I forgot to pick up your dry cleaning,” Barbara says as she scrapes the yolk from the breakfast plate that belonged to Mark.
“What do you mean, you forgot?” he asks without even glimpsing up from his laptop.
Shoving the green Denby plate into the dishwasher, her eyes won’t look at his. He would have found out as soon as he went upstairs to put his blue button-up shirt on and noticed it wasn’t there.
“I forgot,” she says turning and facing him for the first time all morning. The right side of her face stings a bit from what happened last night. Hopefully, it won’t bruise. Barb’s tired of answering questions.
“What were you doing yesterday?”
Meeting my lover. “Baking cookies for Joshua’s Christmas lunch and making Hannah’s costume for the school play.
“What kind of cookies?” Mark asks.
Weird. He never asks any specifics about their children’s lives. “Chocolate chip cookies.”
“Chocolate chip cookies aren’t a particularly festive cookie. You should have made sugar cookies.” His eyes are locked on her as he leans back in his chair.
“They are if you add food colouring.”
“Think of that yourself?” he asks in his normal argumentative tone.
“No, I found a recipe.”
“What costume did you make for Hannah?”
His interrogation of her annoys her. Breathing out, while sighing heavily, wearily she answers, “Why? Did you plan to help me?”
“I’m curious,” he says weaving his fingers together as he now leans forward on his elbows that rest on the kitchen table. “They’re my kids. I’m entitled to know what they’re up to.”
Her husband’s a hypocrite: he’s always yelling at the kids to get their elbows off the table. “She’s one of the three wise men.”
“She’s a girl.”
“Well, there could only be only one Mary.”
“Who did they give the part to?”
She places her hands on the kitchen counter and leans heavily into it. “I don’t know,” she answers hanging her head.
“What’s wrong with you?” he questions.
“Tired, I guess.”
“Anything I can do to help?” he asks in a voice that oozes with sympathy
When she looks up again, she watches his eyes. There’s a light to them she hasn’t seen in a long time. “No. It’s fine. I just need to get through the Christmas holidays.”
“Okay,” Mark says closing his laptop gently. Then he rises from his chair, crosses the kitchen, and stands in front of her. He gently kisses her on the forehead while saying, “Don’t worry about the shirt. I have another one I can wear.”
In his embrace, she’s not certain how to feel. His breath is warm against her cheek and she wants to relax in his presence. Scanning his eyes, she gives in to this need. Answering with a smile, she says, “Good, good. I felt bad about forgetting.”
He cups one hand around her face, pushes down on the skin, and squeezes it hard. The pressure hurts her jaw bone. Barbara’s eyebrows furrow together as she blinks back tears from the pain. She raises her hands to push his hand away to stop the crushing sensation, but he thrusts her back against the counter. Mark’s eyes narrow at her as he growls in a whisper, “Don’t forget again. And, don’t you ever backtalk to me again!”
With the words said, he releases her face, turns, and marches away.