Honey, I’m Home
He isn’t sure what he’ll tell his wife. Why the renovations aren’t done, why there is still plastic and tape covering the piano windows, or why the walls are only half painted. He hasn’t even attempted cooking, knowing he can’t no matter how hard he tries. Meg is going to be so worried.
So he stands there for hours until she finally arrives from work. Meg’s happy laughter fills the house, the wasteful space making room for her unmistakable voice to echo throughout. He flinches at the sound, but when she finds him in the living room, or what was going to be a living room but now will just be a room, he puts on a smile.
Meg looks around, taking in the state of their new home, before rushing to him. “What’s wrong, honey?”
And, oh, isn’t that like her. To ignore the disarray, the paint on the beautiful mahogany floors, ruining the history of sock-covered feet that must have walked across it years ago. Or to not even comment on the one cream wall, which should be green by now. To pretend none of this is worrisome and rush to her husband instead… Well, it’s why he married Meg.
“Just tired. Staring at all the green was straining my eyes.” But isn’t it such a beautiful color?
Meg frets over him, taking his cheek in her hand, and oh wow. He didn’t expect that. “I feel bad for having you do all this alone. And you’re cold. Do you want a blanket or…?”
“No, no, I feel fine,” he leans into her hand and gives her his best attempt at a loving grin. “Just want you.”
Her bright smile is all the reward he needs, but he takes her offered kiss as well and cherishes it. He doesn’t want to let her go, so he tightens his grip on her waist. When Meg giggles against his lips and pulls away, he has to stop himself from grabbing her and pulling her back. It’s not fair to hold on when he can’t keep her.
Meg walks back to the foyer, but he can’t follow, so he just watches through the archway as she removes her heels. He wishes that she’d keep them on, and he’d ask for a dance, and they’d sway slowly to his old 80s rock playlist. The music would be quiet, just playing from his phone, so he can still hear her heels clack against the floor and know that she is here and beautiful and in love with him.
That’s the worst part, he thinks. That Meg loves him, and he’s leaving soon. After making all these plans for careers and home. Three children at least, Meg had said on their honeymoon. Three perfect children that they won’t have.
“I hope you didn’t cook,” Meg is facing away from him, looking through her phone. He wishes she’d turn around. “I’m craving some takeout from the Indian place next to that furniture store, you remember it? We can just eat on the blow-up mattress and watch a movie or something.”
“That sounds nice.” And really, it did, but he can’t do it. “But we don’t have to use the blow-up mattress.”
Meg snorts, all unladylike, but he loves it. She turns to him. Finally. “Then where? The floor?”
“Well,” he tries to grin, just for her. “I finished the bedroom.”
The way her face lights up makes him sick. “Go look,” he tells her and hopes she doesn’t notice how his voice catches in his throat. He should ask her to leave, to never step foot in this house again, but he’s lost, and she has to find him.
She rushes up the stairs, and he lets all the tears he’s been fighting fall. He gave her a few more happy moments, and that just has to be enough. Because when she goes upstairs, she’ll find his body at the bottom of the ladder, broken and twisted.
Biographical Note: Heidi Reust is an Oklahoman writer. She’s currently studying Creative Writing and Interpersonal Communication at the University of Central Oklahoma. Her goal is to combine her passion for writing with her passion for advocacy. When not studying or writing, she’s at home with her dog, Peggy.