Dinner and Charlotte

When Charlotte made dinner, the kitchen was a bomb site.

A no-man’s land of waste and debris.

Two children flailing their arms, running in and out of rooms.

Screaming.

The smaller one, with the large, round, peachy cheeks, chasing the older one.

Large, fat tears rolled gently down her cheeks, which wobbled with each step she took.

Charlotte wailed, taking her burnt chicken out of the cracked oven. Her blue bows twitched atop her head, sitting on a pile of chestnut curls, all askew.

The older ones watched, shell shocked, from the corners.

Charred vegetables. Broken chair legs. Fire licked the stove ring, the choking sound of gas a gentle, whirring background noise.

What’s wrong, Emilia?!’

‘She isn’t giving me my balloon!’

You should share with your sister, Emilia.’

Charlotte wiped the sweat from her forehead.

A car drew up outside. The engine rumbled, jittering, vibrating, humming through the floor. Then silence as it switched off.

The screaming indoors worsened.

A sigh, in the car.

Then he emerged, his shirt rumbled and his face drawn.

When he darkened the front door, the screaming stopped. The children froze. Charlotte bit her lip, staring at the charred remains of dinner.

He took a deep breath. The damage could be heard from outside, but it did not prepare him for the abhorrent sight before his eyes.

Let us go out for tea,’ he said, calmly.

Charlotte dried her hands on a dishtowel.

It appears,’ she began slowly, ‘that a tiger came to tea already.’

Her crimson face, in all its weariness, broke into a gentle, oh so faint, smile.

The End.

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N.B. I didn’t like this at all. I wrote it, it needed to be written, but it left me with a strange, disgusted feeling in my gut. So I tried to insert a Carlotta-the-fourth feeling around Charlotte, although I’d hate to think of Carlotta-the-fourth feeling like that. Given her era, however, it must have been inevitable. I also wanted to try a ‘Tiger Who Came to Tea’ ending, because making reality a little surreal takes the harsh, uncomfortable edge off it.

My mum says my dad drives her mad. My aunt says her husband drives her nuts, and that he intends to retire in a remote, mountainous area and she doesn’t want to retire there with him. My old neighbour buys her groceries separate from her husband, and they bicker like cats and dogs. They have been married for fifty odd years. I told my mum, ‘I really don’t want to end up like that.’ She replied, ‘well, you will, eventually. Married couples do eventually get sick of each other.’

I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to rely on my kids to make my marriage interesting. My mother in law doesn’t like to travel or be alone with her husband unless her kids are there. They just don’t have a relationship. And, I don’t know if its because I am 23 and ‘inexperienced’, but I strongly feel that that situation can be avoided. I feel like you can make an effort to like each other, and change with each other, and complement each other over the years?

What is your opinion on the matter?

 

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A Toothbrush Away from a Happy Marriage

I stood in the bathroom, my face blinking back at me in the greenish mirror. I look disgusting in white light, that’s for sure. The toothbrush was too high up and the toothpaste required too much effort to squeeze anything out.

Maybe I shouldn’t brush my teeth. I thought to myself. One night doesn’t matter, does it?

Gross, I KNOW. But I was feeling lazy.

But then my mind went to the inevitable scenario when I did get into bed.

D: Did you brush your teeth?

Me: No.

D: Why not.

Me: I am tired.

D: Go brush your teeth.

Me: I don’t want to, I’ll have to put my clothes on.

D: *moody silence*

Me: *ugh* *Gets up to brush teeth*

To be honest, I would have got away with it if it were any other day. But he is moody with me. Disguising it with a few jokes and a fake smile here and there. But he is unhappy with me. And frankly I have no idea why. Maybe I am too fat. Maybe I am too unsuccessful now that I don’t have a job. Maybe I don’t look good because I haven’t bothered to try lately. Maybe I said something mean about his family. Maybe I annoyed him. I DON’T KNOW.

But I won’t add fuel to the fire by not brushing my teeth before I go to bed.

So. I sigh. I scrub at my teeth and rinse and spit, and scrub again. And rinse and scrub and rinse and – for three minutes because my dentist said so. Then I grin at myself from different angles to see if I would get that classic *TING* only the pearliest of pearls can give you.

Nothing.

I brushed my teeth to make my husband happy. I wouldn’t have brushed them if he wasn’t around. I did it, for my husband.

What does that make me? Annoyed, that’s what. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

ALSO. Brushing my teeth is good. So, I did myself a favour there. Hahaha. What am I even complaining about?

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