Why aren’t you lying to me?
My mind jumped to a picture of a beehive before I recongised that that delectable treat was me.
I was honey.
In the space of time my synapses had to come up with that, I had earned myself another — “Honey!”
“Yes gorgeous?” I replied, trying not to lose concentration while I tied my shoelaces, hunched over the bed with my suit jacket tight around my shoulders.
My wife stepped out of our ensuite, the golden downlights we’d recently had installed during the renovations showering her with light. I winced as I accidently looked into them, still not used to the brightness (and in that case, still not used to the damage they were doing to my wallet every quarter).
“What?” she said, a concered look flashing across her face.
“Nothing,” I said, “I just looked into the light.”
“Do I look fat in this dress?” she pressed, out of nowhere.
I looked at her. She was wearing a tight red cocktail dress. Unlike her mother, she was still able to pull something like this off. Or so I thought. As she turned around in the light, I admitted to myself that she kind of did look kind of fat.
Somehow, I just blurted this out.
“Yep,” I said, busily tying my shoelaces.
I only realised how much trouble I was in when I heard the door to the ensuite slam, making me jump and lose my grip on my laces. But the idea really settled in my mind when I heard Meghan crying behind the door; muffled sobs echoing dimly through the wooden door.
“Shit,” I mumbled, promising to cut off my tongue at the next opportunity.
“Honey?” I tentatively asked, as I stood and walked towards the door.
The sobbing intensified.
“Honey, I’m sorry,” I ventured, back to the door.
The sobbing halted momentarily.
“Why aren’t you lying to me?” came Meghan’s reply.
I didn’t know what to say. Obviously ‘nothing’ wasn’t the right thing, because suddenly a new wave of tears emerged from (what I could imagine) Meghan’s red eyes.
“Bloody hell,” I whispered to myself. I ran a hand through my close cropped hair in frustration. Glancing down at the watch on my other hand, I saw that we were going to be even later than socially acceptable if we didn’t leave now.
‘Here goes nothing,’ I thought, and without further ado I tried to apply the figurative wrench to try and pry my wife from her self-pity and out from the bathroom.
“Honey,” I began, “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. It doesn’t make any sense that I would do that, especially because I’d end up with an angry wife. You know what they say. Happy wife, happy life!” The reference didn’t seem to make any affect whatsoever on Meghan, although her sobbing was lightening up slowly.
I pressed on, “I admit that I wasn’t really thinking, but now I know that’s not such a bad thing. I’m your husband. We’re meant to have no secrets between us. I was doing my job as a loyal husband. You could do with a few kilo’s off. That’s nothing to be ashamed about.” I bent closer to the door and lowered my voice, “Don’t think I don’t see you looking in jealousy every time we see Sharon. She’s your best friend. She has two more kids than we do, and yes, she’s managed to keep her weight down. But you forget, honey,” I implored, filling my voice with compassion, “She doesn’t work five days a week like you do. She doesn’t have to get home after a long day and care for two boys, not to mention me. And I think, with us taking up so much of your time, you have none to dedicate to yourself. To your well being. Well, honey, I want to apologise for that, and I promise that I’m going to work harder and help you with the load, because I just want my beautiful wife to be proud of the body she has, rather than having to ask me or compare yourself to your best friend.”
I lay my head on the door. The sobbing had ceased, at least. Slowly, carefully, I pushed myself off the door and sat back down on the bed, once again attempting to finish the illusive shoelaces, all the while distracted as to how Meghan would react to my speech.
I got one shoe tied by the time the door handle twisted and Meghan came out, smile radiating on her puffy red face.
She bent over and kissed me, leaned closer and whispered, “Thank you” in my ear.
“My pleasure,” I said. I was just happy to see her smiling again.
Wiping her eyes with the edges of her index fingers, Meghan slowly stepped back to the ensuite.
“I won’t be too long now, I just have to put on my face,” she said over her shoulder.
The door closed softly, covering my deep exhalation as I counted my lucky stars.
I would have been on the couch for weeks if I hadn’t pulled that one out of thin air.
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I was inspired (in part) to write this story from this writing prompt.