By: Rebecca Harville
The TV in the living room was the only thing lighting up the hallway. The soft blue light danced. The only thing that wasn’t there was sound. There were no pharmaceutical commercials. She couldn’t hear any sound of children laughing or the creepy music that play during a horror movie trailer. The TV had been put on mute.
Emerging out of the hallway into the living room, she saw that no one was here. The living room was exactly like she left it. The couch was still red. The coffee table still had dog bites on the right corner. The only difference was the television was on a different channel.
Flopping down on the sofa, Rikki asked the open air, “Where are you?”
Rikki heard the refrigerator close. Watching the kitchen door, she saw Tom walking out with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food—her favorite—and a spoon. Tom smiled, handed her the food, and said, “You’re a stupid fuck, you know that?”
“Oh really, why’s that?”
“Telling that story, you know how talking about that stuff gets to you.”
“It’s a good thing I have my therapist on speed-dial.”
Tom nodded, “Good thing. You want to talk about it?”
“No,” she said, digging in and unmuting the TV. “Not really.”
For some time, Rikki ate out of the pint while Tom sat beside her crossed legged with his arm draped behind her, watching what was now a ridiculously moronic family comedy. Rikki knew what Tom was trying to do. He was trying to get her to talk about it on her own volition. It wasn’t going to work on her. That’s why she had a therapist, so she didn’t have to feel like she was burdening her husband with her mind more than she thought necessary, even though almost all of her sessions are spent with her staring at her therapist’s face. However, there was this one thing that was gnawing at her.
“How d’you know?”
“About the story I was telling her, how did you know?”
“You were taking too long.”
“Taking too long?”
“Yeah, usually, you go in there read one chapter of a book with her, and you’re out here for the last half of NCIS.”
“Who knew you were such an observant person.”
“It’s my superpower. May I?”
Rikki gave him the spoon and pint and said, “But seriously, how did you know I was— the walls. You muted the TV to listen through the paper-thin walls.”
“Ding, ding, ding.”
“Shut up, you stupid fuck and give me that,” she said, snatching away the ice cream and eating it feverously.
“Now, eating your feelings won’t help you.”
“Don’t get me angry enough for me to want to stab you with this spoon.”
“Let me guess: handle through the eye.”
“You know me so well.”
“You know what I want?”
“Let me guess: a red bike with a blue bow on top.”
“Well, now that I come to think of it, no.” Tom sassed. “Look, you and I both know that story you told her in there was the truth.”
Rikki was about to butt in but couldn’t get a word edgewise.
“Both of them. Now, don’t you want to know how your beautiful, smart husband figured that out?”
“Remember at the beginning of our relationship when you would tell me anything?”
“I remember being piss drunk and you being so sweet to me when I was like that.”
“Rik, you told me told me that story—not as water-down as that one you told her but the same one.”
“I must’ve been lying then too,” Rikki deflected.
“I seriously doubt the story where your mother beats your ass raw with a wooden spoon and your father wakes up from you screaming bloody murder and after he is told what happens, he takes his turn, not with the spoon but with the buckle from his belt is a lie.”
Her therapist didn’t even know that. “I don’t know what—”
“That’s how you got those scars,” Tom said, “That’s also why whenever Sara’s acting bad or does a mistake you make sure she knows it’s a mistake, but you don’t go so far. Fuck, you barely even talk when you’re mad.
“Then, there’s the fact that you used to do your act plastered while trying to make fun of all the things that happened in your childhood like the ‘Jack Nicholson from The Shining’ moments your mom gave you or the times your dad would lick your ear”
Rikki grabbed a pillow, shoved it in his face, and pleaded while he struggled to get it off his face, “I was too fucked up to remember any of that shit. Will you just stop?”
Tom said, pushing the pillow off his face, “I just don’t want you to think that you can’t talk to me about stuff like this.”
“You really don’t need to worry about me,” Rikki deflected.
“I always worry. I worry that you don’t talk to your therapist enough when I’m on location or on press tour. I even call your therapist to make sure you’ve kept in touch while I’m away and even while you away.”
Rikki was really trying to stop the water leaking from her eyes when she gripped his hand and said, “I’m fine. I left when I was seventeen and didn’t look back. You should focus all of that trying to help shit towards Sara.”
Tom shook his head laughing and said, “That’s not going to happen.”