perfect timing

Look, she says.  This can’t go on forever.

What do you mean?  you say.

This is getting ridiculous, she says.

You look down at the model train engine in your hands, grimed with your sweaty fingerprints and three hours of meticulous labor.

I don’t think it’s ridiculous, you mumble.

She puts one hand on a scrawny hip and glances past you into your workroom.  Her glance is quick, calculating; her eyes flash, ruthless and unfeeling as a scalpel.  Her mouth twists unattractively and

That’s when you know you’ve really gone off the deep end, she says.

Over your shoulder, you glance guiltily into your haven of mechanized, regulated, tightly controlled and perfectly timed sanity.  You shift your weight uncomfortably. 

It’s perfect, you whisper.

What’s that? she snaps.

Nothing, you say.

A tense silence stretches out between you, like a clothesline sagging under the weight of dirty laundry.  Resentments, half-muttered fears and slow-forming hatreds, dozens of pregnant silences just like this. It’s the story of your marriage, this silence, and like your marriage, neither of you wants to be the first to break it.

From over your shoulder, a single, perfectly timed engine clicks and whistles and chugs into life.

She sighs.

This can’t go on forever, she says.

I know, you say.  Then you step into your workroom and quietly close the door.


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