I wrote this after challenging someone to write a story in which nothing actually happens.
Short Story: Breakfast
” … but she just drops her pearl-black eyes
and prays to hear him say
‘I love you’
but he tells no more lies … “
They sat in total silence. With the windows closed, no sounds of the morning outside could get in. Breakfast was already on the table. A moment ago it sizzled, but now was quiet. Even the radio, usually blaring rock and roll from her favorite station, was soundless.
She simply sat, staring at her bacon and eggs. She made them over-easy because he liked them that way. She didn’t care how they were cooked; she didn’t like eggs at all. She had lifelessly gnawed on a piece of bacon which turned out to be overdone, the way he liked it.
He read the newspaper. About midway through the sports page, he discovered that the Blue Jays had beaten the Royals again.
He took a breath, the kind one takes just before he speaks, but then had nothing to say, and let it out. She heard him breathe and waited for his words, but was filled with the sorest disappointment when he said nothing. She felt angry … no, mad as hell when he did that. What was that supposed to mean? she wondered. Why doesn’t he ever talk to me?
She tightened and took the same kind of breath into her own lungs, but then held it for a protracted moment as she realized she had nothing to say either. Maybe it had all been said. Maybe he wouldn’t understand. Maybe he didn’t care.
After another tense moment, she relaxed her breath in such a way as to be totally silent. She didn’t want to give away her secret. She didn’t want him to think she was doing what she thought he was doing.
Over his newspaper she could see the stove and sink, all covered with the by-product of making breakfast. Skillet, empty egg carton, half-empty bacon wrapper, uncapped milk jug, and spatula all had to be cleaned up, in addition to the dishes on the table.
She’d have to do it. Somehow he was always out the door one second before it was time to do dishes.
She felt the same as she had the night before, when she’d gone out of her way to make his favorite dinner: Swedish meatballs. He piled them on his plate and disappeared into the living room to watch professional wrestling. She was furious.
He found the comics page, and read them in the same order as he always did. When he got to Garfield, he felt like laughing, but instead he just heaved his head slightly, the hint of a grin on his face behind the paper.
She didn’t see it, though. Her gaze was locked on an unoccupied area of the table about six inches to the right of her plate.
Her eyes were glued to that spot as her thoughts slowed down.
Finally they crept to a halt. To her there was for a moment only that dusty brown empty area on the table. It felt good to her for it to all go away like that.
In her head there soon came a song…
” … I dreamed you had left my side
No warmth, not even pride remained
And even though you needed me
It was clear that I could not do a thing for you…”
She took in another breath so she could hum a bar or two of it, but again her voice was silent. If he heard her, he might recognize it, and put with it the same significance she did.
She sat motionless, locked in an embrace with the lover she had made of silence.
He didn’t notice any of this, for he wasn’t watching. Even if he had been, he wouldn’t have seen it. The drama was all going on in her heart.
At last, after her sight had begun to fade, she slowly let out the breath that would have sung. She looked up. Without her even noticing, he had left, and it was time for her to do the dishes.