You dodge the plate. She pitches another. You duck again.
“Stop it!” you shout. “I’m sorry!”
“I hate you,” she yells. “How could you?” She resumes pelting you with the china. Plate by plate, her force intensifying with each throw. You remember the pattern name, Oiseaux de Paradis. Delicate, hand-painted birds surrounded by a flower motif in green, orange and blue. On your first trip to Paris together you went shopping at Galleries Lafayette. She stopped when she saw the display and pulled you closer to her, carefully lifting up a plate, her brown eyes welling up.
In those days, it was beauty that brought tears to her eyes.
You could only afford six small bread plates at the time, but grew the collection as your fortunes improved. You recall the first dinner party after finally collecting the full set. Before the guests arrived, you took a photo of the table she meticulously arranged. How proud she was of her accomplishment.
She moves on to the teacups. They shatter the most. Their delicate little handles becoming miniature weapons to wound. To hurt. Just like her words. Just like your actions.
“Listen to me,” you cry, hiding behind the overstuffed Queen Anne chair. The chair where you read the Times each evening, after returning home from the office. When you came home.
You would wait to be called in to dinner, to eat on the now broken dishes. Sharing a meal together. The two of you used to talk about yourselves. You remember how she would look at you as you talked, her eyes studying your face, her chin resting on her clasped hands as she tilted her head just so. Now the talk was about things. The kitchen remodel. The new garden plans. A closet designer to find space for her growing wardrobe. You would feign interest, but the gaps in conversation increased over time, like an awkward first date, the sounds of the cutlery against the plates echoing in the quiet spaces.
You had met your new love by then. She doesn’t care about beautifully decorated tables. She tells you money doesn’t matter, that she just wants to be with you. You believe her, and told your wife that you are leaving your marriage, twenty years after that first trip to Paris; “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just….”
Before you can finish the “just”, because there is no such thing as “just” when you cheat on your wife, she lets out a primal scream. And reaches for the knives. Not the everyday knives, but the silver, the heavy ones that give you that satisfying heft in your hand as you slice into your meat. Heavy shining torpedoes, flying through the air, seeking a target. Seeking you. You hear them slamming hard into the wall, peeking at the cracks they leave in the plaster, as you quickly duck under the table.
You huddle, not speaking, not wanting to fuel her fury. Protected, for now. Waiting for her cries to turn to sobs, disarming her, shattered and spent in her still-simmering rage.
Brian Christopher Giddens is a writer of fiction and poetry. Brian’s writing has been featured or is pending in Raven’s Perch, Litro Magazine, Silver Rose, On the Run Fiction, Glass Gates Collective, Roi Faineant, Flash Fiction Magazine, Hyacinth Review, and Evening Street Review. Brian’s work can be found at https://www.brianchristophergiddens.com