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Abalone

When it's springtime, that's when it all flows back into her. When she can pick up the guitar again. Every song she has ever sold has been written in the spring. It's not really surprising that when you coop up, every chance you get, from the weather 5 months of the year that you get to know the ugliness of people, of yourself. That first winter living together, the first time she sold a song, she told him over dinner, her smile so wide, her hands a-flutter, until she realised he wasn't listening, just muttering, "Uh-huh. Mmmhmm." She snapped, What, Daniel? This is the best day of my life... And he told her, Listen, I don't give a shit what happened today. Every day is always the best day of your life. All you do is chirp, chirp, chirp and I wasn't even listening. You really screwed up my day.
He was mad at her for not ironing his work clothes right again. Didn't she realise he got ready in the dark, so she could continue sleeping and he needed her to do her fucking job right.
She said to him, angry that he was swearing at her, "Maybe you wrinkle yourself up getting ready in the dark. Maybe you should turn the light on because I didn't care if you do. Maybe you should get dressed in another room. I don't really care what you decide to do, but I wash my hands of it."
"Your fucking play on words all the time fucking annoys me," he said.
"Except for when it makes you laugh," she replied.
So, she didn't do his wash anymore. Thank god.
And she didn't tell him when she sold a song. Having that secret kept her happy and he eventually got happy too and they smiled at the world again. Probably because it was springtime. And if his wintertime tirades sometimes got to be a bit much, she could comfort herself with her secret and the thoughts of long grass, leaves on trees and gentle winds that would soon be coming. Her secret always kept her feeling good. Especially now that two of her songs have been on the radio. Especially more, the day she saw Daniel knew the chorus to one on a drive up to visit her parents.

When the twins were born, in June of last year, Daniel started working from home most days of the week. The communications company he works for installed another phone line and fax machine and gave him a computer to use in his home office. They even let him buy a new chair on their money. It helped out so much, having him home. Megan was only 18 months old and still not potty-trained, when Alexander and Andrew were born. Daniel cooked a lot of suppers, kept a playpen in his office and would throw a load of laundry in whenever he needed to get up and stretch his legs. They were a lucky family. Of all the children, Alex took the longest to start sleeping through the night. 6 Weeks old.
But still, by late October, everyone was losing impatience, including winter. Odd snowflakes fell. You were lucky for the day if one touched your nose.
By mid-November, he only spoke to snap.
By the end of December only to complain: Why is it always so loud in here? All the fucking time? I need to work.
Stop playing your music.
Shut the kids up.
Shut off the fucking vacuum. Do it when I'm not here.
But he was always there, so instead, she just didn't bother to do it at all for three weeks.
In January, after a few nights of sleeping in his office, on the blow-up mattress us, he told her he was moving out. Two weeks, he says. He gives her the countdown every night and then he leaves on time.
And no one's fucking happy now.

When Lolz places her cordless phone on the coffee table, it vibrates loudly against the glass before she lets go. Her hands are shaking badly. She glowers at them, how stereo-typical. She has the sudden urge to sink her fingernails into her eyeballs, get grip in them good enough to steady her hands and pull them out from their sockets, dragging them down her face, until what she sees in her head makes her throat constrict and gag. She realises, no, she should want to just cut off her ears. She doesn't want to hear anymore bullshit. Instead, what she does is bites her fist and when she gets to the kitchen, lets out the knuckle-clenched scream, Fuuuuuuck You. And she thinks, Fuck you. Fuck you, God, or karma, or whatever this all is....FUCK YOU. Why is this happening? Why would someone else join in now? And why her??? I've been doing so good. We've been doing so good. Daniel had been home again for almost seven months. We're getting happy again. Aren't we?
Now she wants to run upstairs and shake Daniel awake and scream in his face, "You liar! Only her, my ass!" And then shake him some more. And some more. And some more.
She should go for a walk to the nearest corn field, so she can sob freely, wail, let this boiling volcano in her gut spew out its hot hate and get it done with. Come home and cry herself to sleep on the couch with the lights on.
But they would wonder where she was, so she grabs the beer she told them she was going to get and heads back to the phone.



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