“Damn wind-chimes,” muttered Matt as he closed the door softly on his daughter’s sleeping form. She was genuinely asleep, finally, and Matt didn’t want the “chink-chink” of the dishes clinking against each other in the kitchen sink to wake her. He stood outside the closed door for a moment and sighed, then braced himself and walked into the kitchen.
A dark-haired woman, Laura, was standing at the sink, soap running through her fingers and steam fogging up part of her glasses as she bent over the sink and washed the few dishes that were in there. She heard Matt walk in, and her shoulders stiffened slightly. She wished he would move out already. Even though he slept on the couch, his presence in the house seemed to fill her every waking moment with an itch she couldn’t scratch without making it bleed.
“Coffee?” Matt offered quietly as switched on the electric kettle. Something in Laura seemed to break, and she turned off the water-tap.
Matt reached into the cupboard and took out two mugs as Laura dried her hands on the dishtowel and sat down at the kitchen table, burying her face in her hands. They smelled lemony from the soap. She hated the smell of lemon. Stupid grocery store, she thought, why do they always run out of the good smelling soap?
“What are we going to do about her, Lor’?” Matt set a steaming mug of coffee in front of Laura and took the seat across from her, taking a long sip from his own, equally steaming mug. Laura’s shoulders stiffened and then slumped again as she picked up her mug. Her shoulders were aching, she was making that move so many times each day.
“I don’t know…” she murmured. “Do you think there’s something seriously wrong with her?”
“Um. Yes?! She’s been in bed for a week, goddammit! She’s hardly eating, she hardly responds to us! How can you be so calm about it?” Matt spoke barely above a whisper, still afraid to wake his daughter, but his tone was clearly one of a man who very much wanted to shout.
“Oh Matt, give me a break – she’s upset! It’s natural! She’s drawing attention to herself. I love her so much, and I’m worried about her too, you know, but I’m worried about how she’s going to be when the divorce is final more than I’m worried about her now.” Laura couldn’t bear to look at Matt. She felt somehow that his worry was an insult, as if he cared more for Rosy than she did. She knew the thought was ridiculous, and also knew that Matt was being disgustingly naïve, believing Rosy was really sick when Rosy was obviously sick at heart but not in body.
“I don’t want to leave while she’s like this. I can’t do it, Lor’,” Matt voice broke on the word ‘leave.’ He seemed on the verge of tears for a moment, but then he pulled himself together and looked at his still-wife-soon-to-be-ex-wife defiantly. “I won’t leave her. It’s not fair to her. It’s not fair to me. I don’t want to divorce her.”
“Matt!” Laura’s face turned red and she seemed to be close to yelling. Her voice was getting louder with every word. “We had an agreement! We cannot, I repeat, CANNOT keep living in the same house. All we’re doing is making Rosy more and more upset. She can hear us fighting, she can hear us talking to the lawyer, she can hear every damn word and THAT is why she’s hiding in her bed. We need to have some time apart or we will not be able to work this out for her!”
The two adults glared at each other for a moment. It was Matt who looked away first, taking another angry sip from his mug. This conversation would continue for a while, and he had no idea who would win the argument. Laura usually won, but Matt was determined in this. He could not leave Rosy when she was lying in bed like a little ghost of the bubbly twelve-year old girl he remembered from just a few weeks ago, before she had gotten wind of the divorce.
Rosy lay in bed all this time, truly asleep for the first time in days. Her hand was curled around the pillow and her dreams were of her childhood, when there weren’t any worries past which stuffed animal was missing an eye and how much the bruise from falling over hurt.