Regretting Perfection

The spatula flew across the room barely missing his shoulder. She never did have good aim.

Next, an oven mitt bounced against his stomach. That was a better throw. The soft object hit the ground.

“What is it that you want from me? What the heck more can I do? What more do I have to give up for you?” Felicia screamed in anger.

Todd started walking toward her as she grabbed the next object to hurl his way.

Before she could launch the pan full of mushrooms and peppers, he grabbed her wrist.

Clank! The hot mixture splattered to the ground.

“Oh. My. Gosh! You are psychotic. Stop throwing things! You don’t even understand what I’m asking! Chill out, you crazy woman!” Todd’s screams and aggressive hold on her wrist set her into a crying fit.

“Mommy? Are you okay?” The argument was interrupted by the little blue eyes, light brown skin, and mess of hair that entered the room.

“Mommy, you made a mess. Can I help you clean it?” The concern in the four year old’s voice was palpable. Obviously, little Jarred had seen the whole thing.

Todd released her wrist and took a step back.

Felicia dropped down on one knee to look at the little face. “No buddy, it’s okay. I’m sorry we scared you. Why don’t you go upstairs to your room? I’ll be up in a few minutes. Draw me a picture, please? Of a puppy.”

“Can I use makers?” His eyes lit up with anticipation. He obviously forgot the screams and the objects thrown. It’s funny how easily children get over things.

“Of course, baby. We love you.” And he was off.

She stood and faced Todd. His hands were thrown up in exasperated surrender.

“I never once saw my parents fight. I never even knew adults screamed at each other,” he said. His voice was calm now. His expression level.

As he spoke, his hand in the small of her back ushered her over to a kitchen chair.

“What happened to us? When did this start? Why are we always so angry?” Todd asked. His eyes were squinted closed like they always used to be when he was passionate about something.

But the rest of his face had changed. In their six years of marriage, life had changed. In the ten years she had known him, a lot of things had changed.

“You never used to yell back, Todd. I remember that night I irrationally took out my anger on you when we were just friends. I screamed at you and you calmed me down. You were always so good at that. I miss those even tempered days,” she said, nostalgia apparent in her voice.

“But when did you start regretting me? he asked. His tone had taken on its all too familiar problem solving mode.

But she knew that this wasn’t a problem that could be solved.

“It happened the day you proposed. I could have sworn that I was more than happy to give anything up for you.” Tears silent and sporadic made their way down her cheeks.

He always had a way of making her talk even when she didn’t want to.

“And I did. I learned to be what you needed. And in return you took care of me. The more I gave, the more you treated me like a damsel in distress.”

“So after we got married, I sank into the role.” Her words came like a flood. “And a year and a half later when I realized I was pregnant and you got the pastorate here, I was too confused to voice my opinion.”

“So I quit my job and moved to the middle of nowhere. Did you know I never wanted to leave the city? Did you know I never wanted this life?”

Before she could stop herself, the words came out. For six years she had hid her emotions. She thought that was the price for him.

And she knew having him was worth any price.

“Felicia,” he said with the weak voice of a man who didn’t know what to do anymore.

“We talked — before we even started dating. You knew where I was headed. And you never asked for more. Was I supposed to read your mind?”

“I need to finish dinner,” she said, standing abruptly. He stood too.

Todd walked over and knelt to clean up the mess from the pan. Felicia put her hand gently on his back.

“Don’t worry about it. You need to study for your sermon tomorrow. I’ll just make grilled ham and cheese tonight for dinner instead. I’ll come get you when it’s done.”

“And I’ll clean this up. This is my mess. This is my job,” she added.


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