This is a short story I wrote for an RFW Challenge back in 2012. I hope you enjoy it.
Eyes raised, she glanced at the round brushed aluminium clock on the wall. 8.05pm.
Slowly, a frustrated sigh whooshed from Abi’s lungs, her earlier excitement fizzing into the humid summer evening air.
Her gaze swept across the sturdy oak dining table set for two; flickering candle lights, scattered rose petals, her best porcelain china crockery, laid out to perfection. Dinner—Fillet Mignon with mushrooms and roasted asparagus—warmed in the oven. Tayo’s favourite. Their last supper?
Rat-tat-tat...She tapped her gel-coated fingernail tips on the wooden table-top, her rising annoyance seeping from her body into the table with each strike.
You’ll chip your nails!
Disregarding the cautious voice in her head and the fact she’d spent a fortune on a spa manicure and pedicure, she continued the staccato beats. It wasn’t just her hands and feet feeling pampered. A new avant-garde haircut from her award-winning stylist, and a deep-exfoliating facial had her feeling positively revived and ready to face the challenge of the evening--Friday the 13th. It didn't bode well.
Rising, she walked to the coffee table in the living room and picked up her mobile phone. After pressing the call button, it rang for a while before connecting.
“Hello.” It was the same indifferent response every time.
Like you don’t know who is on the line, she thought as she rolled her eyes upwards. Her husband’s phone had caller ID. So Tayo knew it was Abi calling him before he picked his phone.
Most times, she ignored his mildly annoying habit. Tonight, her tolerance level was very low.
“Tayo, where are you?” she asked, the irritation in her voice as loud as a church bell’s toll.
“In the office,” he replied, his resonant voice sounding distracted. “Is there a problem?”
Hell yeah, there’s a problem! She was ready to shout.
“A good wife never shouts at her husband.” Her grandmother’s careful wisdom reined in her rash actions. A vision of the grey-haired woman in her green floral print iro and buba and kind knowing eyes floated before Abi.
Her skin flushed with embarrassment as if she’d just had a stinging reprimand. Her eyes lids fluttered shut briefly. When she lifted them, her gaze focused on the mantelpiece displaying framed photos of both Tayo and her.
A deep breath passed through her lungs soothing her raw nerves.
“You promised you’d be home by seven-thirty tonight. It’s past eight already.”
The calmness of her voice belied the roiling emotions she wanted to bare. Be a good wife, the voice resounded in her head.
“Oh. I forgot,” he replied as if he didn’t understand the reason for her annoyance. “We had problems with one of our projects here and I’ve been trying to sort it out. I’ll be leaving here in about an hour.”
Words screamed in her head. No, come home now! She should say but that would make her hysterical and pathetic. A good wife didn’t complain—didn’t nag.
“Okay.” Her voice dripped with nonchalance she didn’t feel. This was yet another broken promise. Another indication of their marriage adrift in the high sea, rudderless and masterless. And she was about to jump ship for safe harbour. Greener pastures.
He might’ve detected something in her voice because he asked, “You didn’t prepare anything special, did you? It’s not our anniversary, right?”
At this point, the impulse to scream her frustration overwhelmed her. She could no longer restrain the words that had eaten her up for weeks.
“No...but I have a new job in New York and I’m going in a month,” she muttered before pressing the end call button.
If you enjoyed it, leave me a comment.
And even better if you share it.