She makes coffee in silence, with shaking hands.
I want to tell her she hasn’t added enough grounds, it won’t be as strong as she likes, but I don’t. I am cross with her and she can drink weak coffee if she’s going to be so stubborn.
She hasn’t spoken to me in a few days. Was it Monday or Tuesday I last heard her voice? It’s hard to remember when it feels like we’re entombed together in the silence of this house. Her shuffled steps on the kitchen tile whisper like corpse wrappings against stone.
I am cross with her and she is drinking her coffee alone in the living room. The television is off and she stares at its blank face with a determination that frightens me but still I say nothing because she is the one who stopped talking to me first. We have been reduced to children fighting in the playground. You hit me, you called me names, you took my doll. We are stupid children and she is drinking her weak coffee in silence.
I remember how beautiful she was in the beginning. Hair cut short but shiny and I liked it that way. Bright smile, clear eyes, kind words. She touched me and I kissed her and it was so good. We were not teenagers but we were not quite grown-ups and things were so easy then.
She has let her hair grow long but she has not brushed it in a while. It tangles around her face in fierce knots and her eyes are dead somehow. I do not know when this happened. I can’t remember.
She does not touch me anymore.
I watch as she sets down the coffee, only half-empty, on the coffee table. She moves to the bedroom and her feet make that ominous whisper, that cornstalks-in-autumn sound against the carpet.
She bends to the piles of clothes on the floor and begins to sort the laundry. Her pile, my pile. She will not wash my clothes out of principle and it makes me angry at her all over again. My socks and undershirts have started to smell but she leaves them in their little heap and continues to sort, her pile, my pile, what will be washed, what will stay here.
She should wash my clothes. She is my wife.
I know she is doing this on purpose and I want very much to shout at her, to throw the laundry basket across the room and end this childish display of pettiness, but I restrain myself. It’s what she wants. I will not give her what she wants. She must learn this lesson on her own.
She takes the pile, her pile, of laundry into the basement to wash. Her motions are practiced, mechanical, as she sets the cycle, opens the lid, dumps the clothes, pours the detergent. I want to tell her the detergent goes in before the clothes, she will stain them irreparably but she will not listen. She has stopped listening to me.
I leave her in the basement. I can’t watch her any longer as she stares, unblinking, into the washer’s innards as though it holds all the answers. Keeping the lid open that long is sure to do some kind of damage to the machine but I say nothing, I leave her there because I am still cross with her and she is starting to give me the creeps.
She emerges some time later. She makes another weak pot of coffee. She sorts the mail. She makes more piles, hers and mine.
I feel the anger twisted around my heart give way a little when she begins to cry.
She has opened only two of the ten or so envelopes from her pile before burying her face in her hands and weeping helplessly. I don’t know if she’s crying because of the mail or because of the hopelessness of our situation but I want to hold her either way and yet, I know I can’t.
I want to say, it’s your fault I’m trapped here. I want to hold her, gently but firmly, and tell her that I’m stuck in this house with her and the only way I can leave is if she lets me go. She knows this. Surely she must know this.
She goes on crying.
She would not listen if I said it anyway.
I love my wife but she is selfish.
She leaves the rest of the mail unopened and goes to the bedroom. I think for a moment that she has had a change of heart, perhaps she will wash my clothes after all, but she emerges with the pistol I keep at the back of the closet and suddenly everything goes cold.
I want to tell her she can’t do this. She doesn’t understand. She won’t go where I went, suicides go somewhere else and while I’m not quite sure where I am I know she will not be with me.
She has kept me here with her love, and without her, I do not know where I will go.
I want to stop her. I want to take the gun from her hands and kiss away her tears. I want to tell her she can live without me, however hard it may be, however painful, and that though this may seem like an answer it is anything but.
I want to tell her.
She has stopped listening to me.
The car accident was just over a month ago and yet she has talked to me, she talked to me every day that saw her alone in this house since she left me in the graveyard for the last time, she listened for me to give her an answer and just now, just today, she has stopped listening.
She puts the gun to her head in silence, with a shaking hand.
I tell her no, and in the instant after she has pulled the trigger I see it in her eyes, she has heard me only seconds too late.
I watch as she crumples, bloody hair, dead eyes, limp limbs. I remember what she was like in the beginning.
She cannot go where I have gone.
I do not know where I am.
She is not here with me.
I love my wife but she is selfish.
I am frightened and I am cross with her and her body is cooling next to the cup of weak coffee on the table and I do not know where I will go.