May 21, 2008
By Jennifer Carlson, Brooklyn Park, MN, MN

Every moment seemed surreal as I went about my day. Time passed so slowly that it seemed to exhaust itself to just make the next second pass. It was as if I was watching someone else’s empty, hollow life. I did nothing out of the ordinary; I picked up the dry-cleaning, washed clothes, and cooked dinner. After checking the soup one last time, I walked up the winding staircase to change into his favorite red polka dot dress. I fixed my hair and applied makeup to his most recent indiscretion. I hear the front door slam into an echo. He’s home.

I walk down the stairs to greet him as he takes off his coat and sets down his briefcase. Though I thought of asking how his day went, I could tell already he was not in the mood for small talk.

“Dinner is almost ready.” I hear myself say in a sweet tone. He mumbles something under his breath, then retreats to his office slamming the door in my face. I clench my fists in an attempt to hide my frustration towards him.

Later, we sit down to dinner at our elongated oak table. The chandelier above makes reflections of light dance around the room. We can’t be more than a few feet from each other, though it feels like a mile. Awkward silence fills the room, neither of us wanting to break it. Finally, he lets out a sigh and says, “How was your day?”

“Fine,” I reply plainly. He looks taken back as if expecting another answer. Not wanting him to see my anger, I smile at him reassuringly from behind my cherry red lipstick. He smiles back, unknowingly. Though I only hear a few words, he begins to drone on about his day at work. I stare at him blankly while fiddling with the string of pearls hanging around my neck. I watch and wait.

“What did you put in the soup?” He inquires. My heart begins to beat wildly and my hands become clammy, I avoid his stare by looking at anything but him-the clock, the autumn colors of the walls, the snowfall outside the window. After clearing my throat I answer coolly,

“Just some new spices I picked up at the grocery store.”

“Well, whatever you put in there, it is delici-“ He is cut short as he gasps for breath. He clutches his chest then slowly slumps over in his chair. There is an eerie silence that hangs in the air as the light still dances around the room. For just a moment, the whole world is still. Even the snowflakes seem suspended in midair. I slowly rise and walk over to the phone. I reluctantly pick up the receiver and dial the numbers.

Yes, hello? I think my husband is having a heart attack…yes please hurry!” I say frantically. After hanging up the phone, I walk back over to the table, and pick his half-eaten bowl of soup, along with mine untouched. I bring them to the kitchen sink where I pour them down the drain, along with anything that was left of my empty life.

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