Guilt

October 19, 2009
By , Garfield, WA
Robert wiped his sweaty brow with his sleeve. He’d been fired from his job at the local supermarket for downsizing purposes. This was the second time he’d been fired this month, and jobs were getting scarcer by the day. He could only shudder at what he knew would be the oncoming storm of his wife. Rebecca was a sweet girl in her youth, but the 20 years he’d been married to her had turned her bitter.
The dwarf of a man waddled up his front steps to the house that was to be repossessed without a days notice. They’d been unable to pay their mortgage for 3 months. Robert sighed; pressing his stumpy fingers against the moss which blanketed the bricks by the front door. It was the only comfort he would feel before facing whatever demands Rebecca would shout. He took in a deep wheezing breath, and mentally prepared himself to finally lay out his speech that he’d been repeating in his head the whole way home. He would tell her the circumstances, promise to find a more reliable job, and make her happy. She’d forgive him, and they’d sit on either side of the radio sipping at the hot tea she’d been preparing for his arrival home. That’s how it would go, and everything would be alright. The optimistic little man pushed open the front door fearing nothing that may await him.
“Robert! That you!?” Rebecca screeched from the kitchen. Robert cringed, feeling the courage to face his wife begin to drain from him.
“Yes dearest,” he chimed, feeling his voice shake. He plodded his way into the kitchen, forcing himself to smile. Rebecca stood over an extravagant strawberry cake, scowling at her husband. Robert couldn’t help but to wonder if she’d baked the heaven-on-a-plate on her own, or if she’d bought from the baker she was such good friends with. He licked his lips, “That looks delicious, dearest.”
“It’s not for you. You’re too fat already,” the crow snapped. Robert patted his belly and looked at the floor, downcast by his wife’s thoughtless insult. She quickly hid the cake in a cupboard while Robert was looking away. “How was work?” she asked, closing the cupboard door. Robert raised his watery eyes to meet her cold ones.
“Things were going bad for their business. Not as many customers were coming, so they weren’t making any money. They couldn’t afford to keep all of us working, so…” he took a deep breath, trying not to falter in his speech, “…they decided that the person who would have the easiest time getting another job would be sacked. Funny thing is, they thought I was the most capable!” Robert laughed nervously. “Tomorrow, I guarantee you dearest, I’ll find the best job a man can keep and pull us out of this place!”
Rebecca leered at her husband, hating his red chubby face. Hating his graying mustache and balding head. Hating his cherub-like demeanor, and his carefree thoughts. She thought to herself how she could’ve possibly married such fat, sweaty, ignorant fool. This cow stood in front of her, scratching the back of his neck; stomach growling. She could hold her fury no longer!
Robert looked up from the floor again just in time to see, and dodge, a plate which Rebecca heaved at him. “Dearest!” he cried in shock.
“I hate you, you fat lazy pig!” she screamed, reaching for another plate, “All you do in this house is sit around and eat! How am I supposed to afford feeding you when you can’t even keep a job?! You’re worthless!”
“Dearest please!” Robert ducked away from another plate that shattered against the wall behind him, “Please calm down! We can get through this, I promise!”
“Promise me nothing Robert! You always say we can get through everything, but do we?! NO!” tears began to well up in Rebecca’s eyes, “How can we afford to live if you eat everything that comes into this house?! How are we supposed to stay in our home if you don’t work enough to pay the mortgage?! How can you say we’ll get through this when we already lost everything!?”
Robert recoiled away from his wife, stricken by how harsh she was. She bawled into her hands, her hair, already a tangled mess, soaked by and dripped from her tears. He thought desperately of what he could say to comfort his wife, who seemed so vulnerable to him. Robert stepped forward to console Rebecca when she howled more.
“Don’t touch me! I hate you! I hate everything about you!” Her swollen, splotchy face struck fear into the poor man, “I’m leaving Robert!” Confused, Robert held out his hand to his hysteric wife.
“Rebecca, please calm down. You don’t mean that,” he cooed to her, “You don’t have anywhere to go anyways. Please, let me-” Rebecca screeched again.
“You don’t know anything you stupid fool!” she pulled her hair in frustration, “You’re blind! You’re too far into your own happy little world filled with cakes and cookies to even acknowledge what’s been going on right in front of you!”
“I don’t understand.”
“Mr. Fletchner!” she barked.
“The baker? What does he-”
“I’m going to go live with Mr. Fletchner! He can provide! He isn’t lazy! He knows how to make a woman happy!”
“Rebecca?!” Robert gasped, “You haven’t been-“
“YES!” the anguished woman screamed, “Yes, I’ve been having an affair! How do you think we’ve been able to afford all of those cakes you moron!?” Robert could only stutter in shock. Rebecca wiped her eyes with an old dish rag and tried her best to recompose herself. ”Robert,” she patted down the folds in her dress and ran her fingers through her hair, “I’m leaving tonight, and I never want to see you again.” Without another word, or even a moment’s hesitation, Rebecca calmly walked past Robert and out the front door, not even stopping to grab her things.
Robert could do nothing but stare at the ground in dismay. Did Rebecca really just leave him? She’d be coming back through the front door to apologize, right? Maybe not tonight, or even tomorrow, but she would come back, wouldn’t she? Of course not, he answered himself, this was it; the last straw. Rebecca really did hate him. She’d always insulted him, calling him fat and lazy, and stupid, but he never really thought that there was any real feeling behind those hurtful words but frustration. Robert never realized that she held so many unspoken feelings towards him to go as far as to have an affair either. All of those cakes that were there when he got home, all were from Mr. Fletchner, as a gift, or even payment, for his wife? He really was blind to have not seen any of this coming. He was too far his own happy imaginary world to see the real world crashing around his eyes. Crashing and burning, just like the stock market, the cause for all of this turmoil.
Robert fell to his knees, pain jolting into his hips. He sat there, and reflected upon his life. Robert thought of all the times he felt everything was going to get better; thought about how he used to laugh and chuckle at his hardships, figuring they would go away in time. He thought about how his life had been slowly spiraling into a deep, dark pit of lies, loneliness, and misconceptions. Robert could think of only one solution to his troubles. A fool proof plan to ease his pains, and it was easy to do.

The next morning, Rebecca trudged up to her home, feelings of guilt plaguing her conscience. She stood in front of her scratched and dented front door, and could only imagine what her husband must’ve been thinking when she left. The woman brushed her long elegant fingers against the moss covering the bricks by the doorknob, dreaming of how easy it must be to be such a pleasant plant.
Rebecca took a deep breath, and in her mind, went over her words of apology. She was going to explain herself to him, and beg the poor man, who’d always been loyal and forgiving to her, to be taken back.
“Robert?” the woman called, stepping into her house that she felt unwelcomed to. She regretted not knocking, but pushed her way into the house.
The kitchen light was still on, despite the sunny day outside. Thinking of the waste of electricity it was, Rebecca stomped into the kitchen. Her fingered lingered a mere inch from the light switch as she stared in horror at what lay before her.
Robert lay on the floor, no longer red faced and sweaty, but pale and cold. The squat man soaked in a pool of his own blood, a knife in his hand, and a gash on his wrist.
Rebecca could only scream in terror at what she had caused.





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