schook...schook...the knife leaves a trail of butter across the face of the toast, small crumbs embedding in the remnants along the blade. rather than allow it to foul the tub, she runs it across her tongue slowly, savoring the creamy goodness. what he does not know will not hurt him, not that he ever notices.
movement in the window nips the edge of her attention drawing her to the sill. two squirrels scampering after one another beneath the bows of the oak trees, darting in the dappled light streaming through the tree limbs, they seem to be playing a game of tag. smiling at their ardor, her mind drifts to him.
richard had been quite the romantic the first twenty five years of their marriage, finding new ways to express his love for her. love poems scrawled in his hand were found regularly in places he knew she would look. she once handed one to the check out lady at the grocery store on accident, because he had written it on a dollar before secreting it away for her to find. . her favorite surprise had been the hike they took to find a candle lit table set for two in a clearing, strumming minstrels filling the air with soft music.
damn it all! why had it all been taken away? the inferno that was once their matrimonial bed, left her frostbitten and shivering each night, next to the cold slab of his body. lips that once whispered soliloquies bore a stillness found only in the dead. what had she done to deserve this? what sin had she committed that God would curse their household and what amends could she make. the last five years were like walking through hell barefoot.
tears spill freely across her cheeks, burning warm trails of conviction, blurring the scene through the window to a mottled green and grey. she had remained true and dutiful, never giving thought to another. when she made an oath it was forever. richard was still there, just locked away in some cell, his Château d'If and if only she could find the key, he would love her again.
backing away from the window, she notices the toast she had prepared has grown cold and soggy with butter long melted. for brief moment, she ponders, once again, if he would even notice before dumping the contents of the plate into the trashcan by the cabinet, retrieving instead a portion of yogurt from the refrigerator.
guilt crawls around her shoulders for her weakness, thoughts running rampant like wild horses through her head, poisoning her heart. you do not deserve the richard you once had, their whispers fall heavy on her ears. perhaps not, perhaps this is all my fault, she answers, her confusion overwhelming her. she had taken their love for granted, and this was her penance, to live out her days under his shadow.
placing the bowl of yogurt on a tray with a gleaming silver spoon, she faces the hall that leads to him. it stretches before her, a long lonely mile, upon which she holds her breath for what seems inevitable.
"don't i always eat breakfast at 8:00?" his voices strikes her as soon as she pushes the door open.
"yes, i am sorry i am late," she shrinks, "i brought you yogurt today."
"well i like my breakfast at 8:00," he declares, then softly asks, "do i like yogurt?"
"yes, and it is strawberry, your favorite," she replies, an ease gently settling across her. slightly bowing, she places the tray in his lap, lifting her eyes to meet his expectantly.
"can't i have some juice as well?"
"i will be right back," she says, hoping to hold out what little peace she can.
turning toward the door, she hears, "i love you helen." her heart leaps as she looks back at him, her richard returned. she smiles, then watches his face twist into an angry grimace.
"who are you!? what are you doing in my house!" he yells, "helen call the police, there is an intruder! get out of my house...get out of my house..."
she can not flee fast enough, the clatter of the spoon on the floor, followed by the crash of the bowl and tray, chase her down the hall. entering the kitchen she collapses to the floor, sorrow gathering in damp puddles beneath her. wracking sobs shake her body. it is too much, the glimmer of hope snatched away only to be replaced by the sharp knife of his dementia.
if only this love could be taken away. it is easy when it is convenient, the catch is that love seldom is. clutching herself, she hums prayers to anyone who will listen, to bring richard back and give her strength until then. the cool floor lulls her sleep, where she dreams of happy things, like butter and squirrels.
this is a 10DOM post.