Fiction Friday: Joe and Annie’s Marital Spat

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Here’s a new excerpt from Slippery Slope.  The main characters are having a marital spat…due to her, uh…indiscretion, but no one knows just how slippery the slope can be.  A work of original fiction. 

         “Joe is in the master bedroom unpacking his suitcase from New York.  He hangs his garment bag over the closet door.  The tension is thick as I open and close drawers to our dresser, putting laundry away.    

       “She called me, you know,” he said abruptly. 

       I shook my head–confused, distracted, “Who called you?” 

       “The other day…Madi’s principal.” 

       My whole body grows cold, like ice.  My head feels dizzy, my mouth dry. 

      “Where were you?  Why were you late?” 

       I shove some socks into a drawer, turned to close it with my hips, “I….uh…was just running late,” I offered. 

       I fiddled with the laundry basket–that funny little piece that had broken off, flapping like a broken appendage—thinking of an excuse on the fly—or look distracted so I could concoct a better answer.  I was having lunch with my ex-boyfriend from before I knew you. 

       Joe sucked in a deep breath and asked, “Running late…doing what?” The man was tenacious. 

      Breezily, I respond, “Oh, you know…running around taking care household errands…and…one of those market research studies I do from time to time for extra cash.  Traffic got bad.” 

      As if that explained it all, Joe nodded and said, “Well, I was worried.  I mean, it’s not good for Madi to be last in line for pick-up.  Not that I could have done anything about it myself, but well…”  That’s your job, you big bozo of a mother. 

      “So, I could have died in a car crash and that is why I was late to preschool, and you are worried about Madi being the last kid for pick-up?” 

        “No, no.  That’s not what I said, Annie.”  He cleared his voice, “I just was worried—first, if there was a problem with you, and second how Madi was feeling.  I hated being the last kid for pick-up from school, sports, whatever…and I don’t want our daughters to feel that way, either.” 

     “That’s not what you said.  Your first concern was Madi.” 

     “Well, can you blame me?!  She is only three after all.  You are the mature, responsible adult here, her mother.” 

     My shoulders slumped, my eyes narrowed, “Don’t you go around making me out to be some irresponsible, soap-opera-watching, bon-bon-eating mother who forgets about her own children!  I know very well what my role is and I take it seriously.  It’s a lot of work running after these kids and keeping the house tidy.  If you don’t believe me, why don’t you give it try?  I will go off and do some work in some other city for awhile and eat fancy food, stay in a fancy hotel and call you on my cell phone for a change.”  

       “Fine!  Okay—let’s trade places, Annie.  You can go to work every day and deal with bosses and deadlines and make presentations and try to get your work published in research journals, maybe submit some things for a conference.  You can be away from your family for days on end and have to make small talk with people you barely know.  Bet you don’t even know how to manage a team of individuals, do you?  You can worry about whether or not you’ll get a promotion or a bonus…or fired, even!” 

     I felt the backs of my eyes prick, tears threatening to let loose, though I didn’t understand why.  Was it because I was being made out to be a dumb housewife, or was it because Joe was raising his voice at me, something he rarely did?

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