First Place Fiction: Little Things

. October 30, 2015.

It started out with a couple of things that seemed innocent enough.  Little irritations but all of them could be explained away.  In hindsight I was ridiculously naïve.  If you walked down your basement steps tonight and stepped on a tack would you think someone was plotting against you or would you chalk it up to bad luck?

The evidence is now overwhelming and I have made the necessary adjustments to protect myself.  I am a creature of habit.  Maybe that’s what she is trying to change.  When you turn forty it shouldn’t surprise anyone you want certain things a specific way.  Take meals for instance.  When I come home from work I like to check my email and scan the headlines before I sit down to eat.  Probably takes all of 15 minutes but when I don’t rush in and belly up to the table I can tell she is pissed.  She has literally screamed and cried on several occasions.  On weekends it’s horrible.  I’m taking my first sip of coffee, reading the sports, she’s babbling on about who knows what and the downward spiral of the day begins.  I use to offer to make her lunch but she’d barely touch it.  It’s not like I was making a crappy sandwich – I eat very healthy stuff but apparently sprouts and red peppers are too exotic for her.

The meal problems are a drag but at least they aren’t a danger to my health.  You threaten my well being and that’s a whole ‘nother story.  The tack was the first incident.  I’m always the one to go down in the basement and turn off the computer for the night.  There, a couple of steps down from the top, in the darkness was a push pin pointed straight up and I stepped right on it.  Luckily I didn’t fall the rest of the way down the stairs but it killed.  I really wouldn’t have suspected a thing but after I cleaned up and found a band-aid I hobbled into the family room expecting a little sympathy and she is just laying there on the floor watching TV.  Doesn’t look over at me, doesn’t make any effort to clear a path for me to get to the couch, and giggles away at the next funny thing on her favorite show.  I’m betting she dropped that damn tack on the steps on purpose and she was laughing because she was nervous I was on to her.

The next big problem, and the reason I sleep in the guest room with the door barricaded is because she almost gave me a heart attack three times in one week.  First, my alarm goes off at full volume at midnight on a Monday.  Would have been the same effect if she had blown a bullhorn in my ear but then she would have been busted red handed.  Then, two days later I went into the bathroom during the middle of the night to take a leak and perfectly placed under the night light is a fricking clown doll staring at me with its big lipped maniac smile.  Clowns are creepy.  We shouldn’t even have one in the house but she will throw a fit if I pitch it.  And the final attempt at giving me a coronary was the next night.  I’m sleeping away and I start to feel a little poking.  It was about two or so and I’m groggy but slowly I start to come to.  I open my eyes and the little runt is standing there with her sad Cindy Lou Who eyes about an inch from my face.  How I didn’t croak right then I don’t know.  I yell, she starts to cry, I catch my breath, she claims all she wanted was a drink of water.  I wonder how long she was watching me before she thought the timing was just right to scare the hell out of me.  No matter, I’m on to her tricks now.  I just have to be ready for her when she starts pulling teenager stunts.

Dan Page loves telling stories and trying to put short versions of them down on paper.  
He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife Mary, daughters Erin and Molly and their dog Sammie.

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