Another work dinner where her husband would ignore her all night. A clenched fist twisted in her gut.
She lifted her chin as Tim reached back and held her hand, but he didn’t look at her. His attention was all on Brad, one of his team leaders at work.
“You sure did!” laughed Tim.
Why didn’t he laugh with her anymore?
She sucked hard to fill her tightening lungs, and pushed back from the table. She needed to walk.
Hollowness overwhelmed Tim as her hand slipped away and he grasped for the void. He glanced behind him, Clare had left the table without a word. He turned back to Brad, pasted on a smile and tried to concentrate.
The aroma of roast lamb wafted through the house, dancing to the classical music. Clare laughed and danced with it for a moment. Finally they’d be spending some time together.
The phone rang.
“Hi, Honey, how are you?”
“Good.” She smiled.
“Listen, we’ve got this deadline, and the computers went down, and now I have to stay ‘til it’s done. Sorry.”
Clare stared at the edge of the lace tablecloth, lips parted. The tiny flames flickering on the candles blurred as she mentally curled herself into a ball.
“Honey? You there?”
Steel entered her spine and came out in her voice.
“Sure. That’s fine. I’ll see you later.”
End button punched, a violent growl escaped her, and the plastic salt grinder bounced off the cupboard. Bed beckoned as the only safe haven in a house of broken dreams. She gave in to its voice, and pounded her pillow before wetting it through with her tears.
The house was dark. Tim felt for the lock, and added ‘install sensor lights’ to his mental list for the weekend.
He stroked Clare’s shoulder when he found her in bed, but she didn’t stir, so he made himself coffee and turned on the TV.
Clare tried to pray, but instead attacked the chore of making lunches.
Tim stumbled down the stairs still blinded by sleep. She focussed on slicing tomato, knowing he’d put the coffee on before his shower.
His arms came around her.
Muscles tensed as she reigned in her brutal response, straining to keep from throwing off his arms and walking away. His lips found her neck, she turned in his arms, giving him the hug he wanted, but burying her face in his chest to avoid his eyes and mouth.
An eternal moment passed before she felt she could move on. She pulled out of his embrace, hand on his ribs.
“I need to hurry. Do you want lettuce?” She turned back to the chopping board.
Tim towelled himself dry and looked into the mirror, smoothing his hand over his freshly shaven chin.
“Bye, Honey, I love you!” He heard the front door slam behind her.
His mouth ached for the lack of a kiss goodbye.
Energised, Clare waved to the receptionist. Prayer group had untangled the knots that resentment had tied in her gut. She stopped at Tim’s office.
“Hi.” She smiled.
“Hi.” He rose, moving around the desk to hug her.
She listened to his heart beat and breathed in his scent.
“Got time for lunch?” She saw him glance at his desk and frown. Hope dived deep and reality splashed her in the face.
“I guess...” His voice trailed out as her hope rose, but not to the surface.
“We could choose sensor lights too...”
“Yeah, thought I’d put them in this weekend.” His fingers traced circles on her back. She stepped out of his reach.
“I thought we were driving to the mountains?”
“Not this weekend. We don’t have time. I need to fix the fence, wash the cars and do the sensor lights. Your parents arrive next weekend don’t they?” His brow creased and furrowed, shadows in his eyes.
Hope sank to rest beside the Titanic.
“Sure.” Eyes on his feet, she steadied her voice.
“Sure. OK. Let’s go.”
Clare looked at him as if he’d cut her. He didn’t know what to say. She walked out the door without taking his hand, and he wondered what he’d done wrong.
Across the fraying fabric of a marriage, two people shouted, “I love you” but neither could hear the words lost in translation...
Inspired by Matthew 13, and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
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