Broken Bread (Part II)

So, since this site isn’t called five by eight hundred, I split up last week’s story into two. Below is part two. If you missed part I from last week, you should probably read it.

“What? Ben, you haven’t seen this woman. Her body is the reason poetry was invented.” She could feel herself getting carried away. “I bet she has really soft skin.”

“Are you in love with her?” Ben opened the freezer, stared in as if taking inventory.

“Perhaps,” was what she said. Then quieter, “I do wish I was her sometimes.”

“Unbelievable,” Ben said, still staring into the freezer.

“Close that,” Bea said.

Ben slammed it shut. A couple of magnets shifted and some unpaid bills fell onto the floor. Bea leaned over to pick them up.

“You act like you’re going to love me forever,” she said. One of the papers had fallen under the fridge and she was very aware of the folds in her stomach as she reached under to get it.

Ben laughed then, a cruel incredulous laugh she didn’t recognize.

“I don’t know what you want from me. I love you right now. I plan to love you until forever, but you’re not making it very easy.”

“There it is,” she said, standing up. “I knew you weren’t sure anymore.”

“You think I don’t see the bank receipts?” The question came out like an involuntary cough. “You think I don’t notice that you spend thirty, forty dollars a day on lunch? Ten bucks at the coffee shop? What are you buying with all of that?”

“What do you think?” she asked over the sound of onions popping in the oil. Black smoke rose in waves from the pan, the smell of sautéing onions was no longer pleasant.

“I don’t know, Bea,” he said. “They always say people get accusatory when they’re guilty themselves. Why do you think I’m going to leave you?”

“You think I’m going to leave you?” she asked.

She was flattered; he thought she was cheating. He had interpreted her high lunch bills as proof that she was dining with another man. She knew her alleged cheating was much worse, but her bingeing habit was so unimaginable that Ben hadn’t even imagined it.

“Is it true?” he asked. He sounded tired. He was no longer looking at her, instead sitting at the table with his back to her.

Bea said, “No, Ben.” She walked over to him, put her arms around his neck from behind. She kissed the top of his head, around his ear the way he liked, put her face into his neck. It smelled like cut grass and faded cologne. “It was a mistake,” she said. “It’s over now.”

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