Fiction: The Things We Do

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

August 21, 2011

French press cafetiere with coffee on Coffee R...

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Sharon grumpily handed the man his mug, barely sloshing hot liquid on the counter and his hand. Oddly, with his own grumpy attitude, he did not notice this move.

Sharon was a little surprised that she let him get to her with his snide, inconsiderate comments. Usually, she had good command of her own emtions and with an ablility to articulate her needs in a more productive way. Not today, though. Today, last night, this morning, it all rolled into one grumpy mess. She even wore her bright red lipstick to match the sassiness she felt.

Last night, she sat knitting while her husband complained about everything. He complained about the traffic. He complained about the hot meal cooked on a hot day. He complained about how their preschooler didn’t pick up his toys in a timely manner. It was Sunday. Sunday nights were always the most annoying. She couldn’t believe that after all this time, Monday coming after Sunday was still a surprise to him. After they put their child down to bed, she sat with her knitting watching an old mystery classic. Through eyes filled with contempt she watched as he drank beer, after beer, complaining.

Anticipating an annoying morning, she got the lunches ready the night before. She even went to lengths to explain where everything was just in case something was missed in the morning. She hated starting her days with more grumpiness. It’s enough to keep her own emotions in check. How do you keep others in check too? And, they were supposed to be raising someone else in this world. How does evolution work if as a couple, a team, you were constantly regressing?

Sure enough, when Monday morning rolled around, the alarm went off. He was going to ride to work. Although there had been strides to minimize congestion with, finally, an influx of public funding for transit, traffic was still a problem. Her husband didn’t like driving anyway. He rode a motorcycle instead. Motorcycle laws had changed over the years, but one thing remained steady: motorcycles could weave when cars couldn’t. So, it offered a quicker way to get to work.

It was hot, as it often was this time of year, so her husband hadn’t slept well. She wondered what sort of sleep training he had as a child. As a couple, they used painstaking efforts to ensure their own child could self sooth. Why couldn’t her husband?  So, he woke up grumpy. Couldn’t find his clothes (that he set out the night before). Couldn’t get his lunch to cooperate in his bag (the one she pointed out and explained time and time again). Couldn’t get the bike to work properly (even though he checked it over the day before). For whatever reason, when it was from him, she internalized everything. She was getting much better at keeping others’ own emotional issues outside herself, but not her husband’s. So, through all this complaining, all she heard was “my fault, my fault, my fault.”

Finally, he left, but she couldn’t shake the grumpy mood with his departure. Getting the child up was even more difficult. He wet the bed, and there was no time for a bath. So, now laundry had to be done in addition to getting ready for work.

When she finally got into work, she was just grumpy. She nodded good mornings to those already there. It was times like these she wished she worked back in the Cube Farm where she could find solace in that cold, gray wall. Instead, she worked for her sister at her sister’s coffee shop.

The man who came in was a regular. He was known to be grumpy. Sharon just couldn’t take one more bit of grumpy on this already grumpy day. He made another one of his misogynistic comments, and she about blew her top. She was rarely witty on Monday mornings, so how did she think of such a zinger? She couldn’t even remember what she said. He just looked at her, shocked she asserted herself. The rest of the staff sort of paused and looked awkwardly at each other, eyes twinkling.

Maybe, just maybe, the day was looking up.

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