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Dinner was delicious. They ate in silence.The colors and aromas rose, tantalizing the senses and disappeared into the vacuum that existed between them. Rix and Roma sat as they always did. Hunched over their plates, ready to pounce.
His face never betraying anything, Rix thought to himself, "She slouches like she doesn't care. Doesn't care that she could look better for my sake. After all that I do, it doesn't matter to her how I see her after a day outside. I'm sick of it. Sick of it. I should just let her know. Tell her everything instead of sparing her the worry. Then she'll have a reason to look like a waste."
Something in his demeanor must have changed because Roma sank back further. Her shoulders protracted another inch and her small body shrank. She thought, "I'm so tired of carrying all of this alone. He should be man enough to face this. Instead, he looks like he cannot stand the sight of me. He's slouched over the soup like he'll fall into it. I thought he was a man. A man's man. Well, I can't stand the sight of him either."
She put her spoon down and suddenly straightened her back as he continued to carefully spoon out the soup. He didn't notice that her perpetual posture had changed.
What had they seen in each other? She wondered now. Her husband of 5 years was a different man.
She remembered Rix from their early days. The Rix who would dive fully clothed into the pool because "it was sweltering" and he "couldn't stand it another minute!!" The man who brought her flowers and gave them to her with a smacking kiss. He would then proceed to snip the flowers leaving a little stalk and weave her a little garland or hairpiece that she wore proudly all day, even to the hardware store.
She was his queen and he was her future. He was what her life would be about. She had decided this after they had hiked up a trail in the Sierra Nevada. They reached the higher Loch Leven and he had stopped to throw off his backpack, drag hers off and then run into the lake with her. A deep blue jewel in the midst of rock and pines. They had floated for an hour, face up, looking at tufts in the sky, talking about nothing at all. This, she would live on forever, she had decided then. If he asked ofcourse.
He did ask and she agreed. They were married three years from the time they had met and had proceeded to live earnestly and with as much spontaneity as before.
That was before they had wanted a baby.
He had four siblings and ten nieces and nephews. She had two siblings and four nieces. They were eager to add to the brood. Something changed in the year they tried, desperately.
The next change came rather suddenly.
Rix announced one day that he would quit work and start his own firm. It took Roma by utter surprise. They had made a decent living. She worked as a nurse and Rix was a coder. It didn't make sense that he wanted to upend all of this. Rix and his partner were to start something. She never got to meet the partner. But suddenly, their savings, hard earned, dwindled to a few thousands. Rix was so remote that when she had asked him about it, he had simply stared at her. Her face saturated with confusion and hurt seemed to annoy him. He stared her down like he wanted the annoyance gone.
Roma had walked away feeling afraid and new to her, feeling unwanted.
It had gone downhill from there.
She snapped today. The comfort imparted by the scent of the lemon grass and the cheerful homey scene at the dining table struck her as utterly false. Roma was suddenly enraged. It was like covering rot with silks, satins and musk.
They were lying to each other. He had been lying to her.
She had carried her own dreadful burden alone for long enough.
They would have it out now.
"Rix?" she addressed her husband for the first time in a few weeks.
He looked up startled.
"I have to talk to you."
"Wait." He kept spooning out the soup, in a measured way. Either not feeling or not caring for the urgency in her tone.
"Now!" she had never raised her voice before. His uncaring placidity drove her over the edge.
He shot up and pushed the chair back violently. It staggered and toppled.
Roma stood up slowly, her back now straight and her chin lifted.
They would either stay married after this.
Or start their lives over...
To be continued....