Short story made for the weekly writing challenge at the Daily Post.
It is dark in the kitchen except for one lamp, highlighting the hands of the man I despise more than anyone. Ethan is working quickly, steadily, with the meat splattered all over the counter. Now and then another pair of hands can be seen, supplying empty plates and, when they are filled with meat, picking them up again to bring them to the brightly lit restaurant.
I am sitting in the corner of the kitchen, unseen by Ethan. The lack of light is my responsibility. Of course, he does not know this. All he knows is that the lights don’t work and they could not be fixed in time, before rush hour. All sounds seem to be magnified, maybe because of the darkness, maybe because of my dark intentions .
This morning Ethan punched me. I burned the toast, you see, and that must be the worst thing you can do when you’re married to the chef of an overly fancy restaurant. Ethan has been getting angry with me for years now. At first he made up like all men do, according to what I read on the internet: regrets, roses, tears, “I’ll never ever do it again, I don’t know what came over me, I love you so much.” I was young and stupid and in love, so I forgave him. I believed him. I loved him. I really thought it was just a one-off. Of course it wasn’t.
So, years went by, and so did the hospitals. He never touched my face, though. He only touched the dark places. Nothing to be seen. Just like now, in the kitchen. Nothing to be seen.
I explore the inside of my mouth with my tongue, and shiver when I feel my front teeth are indeed still missing. So are some of my back teeth. It hurts. Ethan can say whatever he wants, but blood does not taste good.
The kitchen is getting quiet now. No more hands in the light.
One of my eyes is almost closed. I tried to open it when I was at home, but that was futile. A thoroughly slammed eye cannot be opened, I learned. Alas, I can still see with the other one. I’m more concerned about my nose. Maybe I should have gone to the hospital, but I couldn’t bring myself to face those sympathetic faces again this morning.
Ethan’s smoking a cigarette. The smoke swirls up in the light. He’s chatting with one of the other guys, a pastry boy, I guess, because they’re talking about tarts. Or maybe he’s referring to me. He calls me “tart”. Or “pig”. Or “fucking bitch”. He never calls me “my little monkey” anymore.
Ethan has stopped talking. He is now drinking the Veuve Clicquot he always drinks at the end of the shift. Never make the mistake of calling him an alcoholic – he is a chef. He is supposed to drink. And eat. He’s gained a lot of weight during our years. That isn’t so bad, except when he sits on you and tries to choke you. It has proven difficult to get away from under two hundred and forty pounds of man.
Even more quiet now. No more clattering of plates, cutlery, pans. Maybe everyone has gone home. I can’t see the clock, it’s too dark. I stand up, shaking. My limbs hurt from sitting in my dark corner for so long. The knife feels heavy in my hand. I hold it in my left hand because the right one, the good one, is broken.
I step into the light and stab Ethan in the back. I miss, only his arm is hit. Fucking eye. He turns around. He snarls. “You were never any good with knives”. I flee back in to the darkness.