“I just can’t stand it anymore,” she said. “He thinks he’s the Prince of Darkness and he never helps around the house.”
The lawyer stopped chewing his pencil and looking at her tits and said ah. He wrote something down on his notepad and then stared at it. She watched him in silence for a moment then looked over his shoulder at the car park across the road from the mall.
“I’ve got to go shopping,” she said. “He needs socks.”
When she returned home she sat at the dinner table with her head in her hands. The Antichrist lay on the sofa in his black tracksuit watching television. He scratched his balls and ate chips. When the studio audience applauded he leaned forward and raised his arms in thanks like he was blessing them. He’d always done it and she’d asked him once why and he’d replied that he was practicing so she’d never mentioned it again.
“Why don’t you get a job?” Jessica asked.
“I’m summoning the forces of darkness,” he said.
She looked down at the thin band of cheap gold on her finger and wished she’d married Davie Edwards when he’d asked all those years ago after Senior Prom. He’d gone off to California and made millions in computers or something. She thought about that for a moment then she went into the kitchen and fried eggs and sausages in a pan.
“What’s for lunch?” he asked from the living room.
She sighed. He said, “Sausages and eggs.”
“Amazing,” she replied. “Your powers are increasing,” but she always cooked the same thing.
“I can read your mind,” he said.
“No you can’t,” Jessica said, thinking about the lawyer. There was quiet but she heard him turn off the television and get up from the sofa. She opened a drawer to get the cutlery and from the dining room behind her he said, “Yes, and I can see that too.”
She put the food on two plates and carried them to the table and tried to stop her hand shaking when she poured the fruit juice. They sat opposite each other eating in silence, with only the knotted ball of her unease between them which he didn’t acknowledge. He slurped his drink and chewed his food with his mouth open. Jessica cut a piece of white bread into smaller and smaller squares to wipe up the egg and sausage fat and couldn’t bear to be there a moment longer, and after lunch he took her into the bedroom and fucked her. She counted the flowers on the wallpaper again and said oh a few times until he finished. Then he rolled off her and left the room and she curled up in a ball clutching the pillow to her stomach. She heard the phone ring and the quiet murmur of his voice. He spoke calmly and with authority, and she dozed. When she woke he was raking dead leaves in the back yard.
“Well,” she said brightly enough, but that evening he was silent and withdrawn. He stood on the front lawn in the darkness drinking a beer, and nodded once to the motorcycle gang that rode slowly past. She watched games shows and did her nails.
“You poor dear,” said her friend Suzie the next afternoon over tea and those little cupcakes with sprinkles on them. “But don’t be so hard on yourself, that’s what I say. You’ve done your best, all a girl can do. Said the same thing to Julie in sales just the other day, I did, poor dear how she suffers, and I said the same thing to my Roger I did when I divorced him. Roger, I said, I’ve done my best and all I girl can do and no more, but I can’t stand you any longer I swear I said right to his face. Any longer I said and I’ll lose my mind like dear Winifred rest her soul but when are you going to grow up Roger? Lord knows I said you’re not the star quarterback anymore and I’m not the prom queen. Told him I did God knows I’m a nervous wreck and I’ve had enough I want a divorce.”
“You weren’t never the prom queen, Candice was,” Jessica pointed out.
“Never you mind,” said Suzie. “That Candice came to no good just as I said and that damn Mr Mickelson leaving his wife and losing his nice teaching job and all over a prom queen and her slobby little blowjobs.”
They both covered their mouths in mock horror and giggled. Suzie coughed and spluttered as the tea went down wrong and Jessica had to pat her on the back and give her a tissue.
“You’re terrible,” said Jessica.
“Dear me didn’t that girl just pile on the pounds though?” said Suzie, wiping her eyes. “Happily ever after with a fat, sweaty bitch in a Tuscon trailer park indeed.”
“Stop it,” said Jessica when they had recovered.
“Here’s the thing, though,” said Suzie seriously, her mouth full of cake. “Girl’s got to look after herself and do it right with lawyers and such, I say, and lord if that poor put upon Sandy Mickelson didn’t get the house and everything else in the settlement brave girl, bless my soul. Me? I marched my little self straight down to the bank that very afternoon and withdrew our bank account I did, the lot of it too almost six thousand dollars who would’ve thought it?” The buttons on Suzie’s dress strained as her bosom swelled with pride. “How much money do you have dear?” she asked.
“I’ve no idea,” said Jessica.
“Well find out,” said Suzie, licking cake off her fingers and looking pityingly at her. “It’s your money too I say.”
“How much?” Jessica spluttered that afternoon when the bank clerk passed her a scrap of paper with the amount written on it. She stared at him for a moment, then mumbled thank you and stumbled out into the street. Then she went home and cooked a roast dinner and did her hair but he was still a bastard. She spent the rest of the evening on her hands and knees cleaning the oven and drinking too much red wine. He sat behind the computer in the den posting his usual doomy and gloomy portents of the end of days on his blog or whatever it was he did. When he went to the toilet at some point later in the evening to take a long shit she sneaked in and sat down at the computer to read what he was writing and look at his emails.
But then he was in the darkness behind her and said, “What are you doing?”
© andrew wheeler