There’s a longer, and slightly different, version of this that I might post over the weekend. Until then, enjoy. 🙂
She hissed in a sharp breath and drew her fingers away. It was almost gone, almost invisible.
If only she were invisible…
She set the powder down on the table. It rattled against the wood. Leaning on the chair back for support, she stood, her breath shuddering. Her knees almost collapsed beneath her weight, her thin frame nearly incapable of supporting her.
She made it to the bed, and sat on the edge. Her clothes were laid out, waiting for the day to begin.
She didn’t want it to begin.
But there was no choice.
She picked up her top, then her skirt, then her socks, and finally her jumper. It felt like too much extra weight.
Up she got again, and walked over to the door. She stepped out into the hallway. All the time listening. Breath held.
Only silence met her. He was asleep, his routine the same as always.
She tiptoed down the hall, down the stairs, and let out her held breath in the kitchen. Breakfast time. Eight am. He would be down soon. Always half past. Always expecting things to be just right.
Scrambled eggs this morning, according to the list on the fridge. She cooked them just as always, exactly as always, and right on time, heavy footsteps sounded on the stairs.
She braced herself and painted a smile on her face.
“Good morning,” she said, and placed his eggs on the table just as he sat down. Perfect synchronization.
“Morning,” he mumbled, and glanced at the coaster by his plate.
She placed his mug of coffee down. And sat down opposite him, greedy eyes watching every mouthful.
He started to talk about the morning’s news, reciting it from the tablet computer he held with one hand. She smiled, and replied just as he wanted her to, a dance she knew every step of perfectly.
He put the tablet down, stretched, and got up. “You’ve got the list, I’ll see you after work.”
The ghost of him reaching down and kissing her cheek doubled her vision for a moment, but disappeared back into the past in the blink of an eye.
He left the kitchen, left her to wash up and wait for him to get back. She sat for a little while after she heard the front door close, the tension in her shoulders trickling away. The image of that poster hovered before her, and she folded her thin arms over her empty belly. Her painful, empty belly.
For half a moment she’d dared to imagine what her life could be without him. Without the bruises. Without walking on eggshells. Without the hunger.
But how would he cope without her? How would she cope without him? He was right, they needed each other. Two broken souls. And he really was sorry. He always said so. He always made up for it.
She got up, and picked up the dirty plate and cup. Just as she always had. Always would. Always should.