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She sat there, head buried between her knees, some of the tears sliding down her face and landing on the knotty oak floors. The occasional sob, like the gasp of a drowned woman, escaped her trembling half-parted lips. She could taste the salt of the tears on her lips, which she knew must be as red and swollen as her eyes and nose. It was always like that.

It had started at dinner. From her handbag emerged a nice yellow polo shirt for Tom. As she watched his face grow morose and stiff, he took one more sullen bite of the broccoli, crunching it with deliberate emphasis. His fork dropped onto the plate with a clatter.

“What’s this for?” She opened her mouth to answer, but he cut her off. “You think job-hunting in this damn recession is a piece of cake? `Course, sitting around at home idle all day ain’t helping you understand my situation.”
He saw her eyes pucker and her nose redden. Awkwardly abashed and enraged, he rose from the table.

“I’m going for a walk,” he muttered. She heard the door slam shut.

Remembering Tom’s words now, she felt a wave of ineffable sorrow and frustration break over her. It wasn’t fair that she was the only one who noticed people’s contempt for Tom’s uncouthness. It wasn’t fair that she, at this young age, was condemned to a life defined by a moldy apartment, covetous in-laws, and implacable bailiffs. The stinging sensation mounted, and she pressed her knees to her eyes, no longer damming the tears oozing from her lashes. The world disappeared under a film of salt and darkness. It was silent except for the clink of beer glasses next door and her own convulsive sobs…
“What’s the matter with you?” he said.

She stared up vacantly at Tom looming over her. Unsteadily, wordlessly, she rose to her feet and stumbled to the door. She paused for a moment at the welcome mat.

She looked at him and desperately wanted to scream, “Don’t you understand?”

But she didn’t.

“I’m going for a walk,” she mumbled instead, ignoring the perplexed and brooding look on her husband’s face.





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