Banging the Keys (Flash Fiction)

She opened the door slowly and looked in. The room was silent and poorly lit, and debris scattered the floor.

“Don’t come in here,” Bob said. His voice was strong and reverberated between the walls and white tile. “There’s glass everywhere. Are you barefoot?”

Catherine nodded.

“Then don’t fucking come in here. Why are you checking on me anyway?”

Catherine saw the glass. It sparkled like ripples over a still pond. Her eyes moved slowly across the floor to the source of the glass explosion. There, in shattered ruin, was Bob’s one and only music award. It was a silvery disc that mimicked a CD. The award read “Best Pop Single” and it was dated from 1996. Catherine looked up toward her husband and saw a mop of twisted hair hiding behind the piano. “I heard you shouting,” she said. The disheveled hair behind the piano stirred and dipped out of sight.

“Is that new?” Bob said.

Catherine stood up a little taller in the door way. The piano that existed between her and her husband was a glossy black and very large. It was the only piece of furniture in the room. “No, it’s not new,” she said. “Why did you smash your award?”

“Because it’s fucking garbage,” Bob snapped. “It’s a pathetic joke. It always has been and always will be. Just like me. I’m tired of it hanging on the wall, mocking me.” His brown hair floated up again and a peaking eye looked out from behind the sheet music.

Catherine stared at the single eye, an eye that reminded her of a scared child. She saw the empty glasses that only serve alcohol and waited as several interrogating thoughts roared by. How long will you drown yourself with alcohol and self pity? Why do you insist on drowning yourself as well as me? Why can’t you cherish the success you had instead of treating it like something loss? How much longer do you expect me to put up with this? Or is that the goal?

“That single bought this house,” she finally said.

The eye hiding behind the piano, red and withered, narrowed. “This place is falling apart,” Bob said with a hiss.

So are you, she thought.

Catherine opened the door a bit wider and tried to let herself and the room breathe. Bob sat up in a movement of childish frustration. “Would you like something to eat?” she asked.

“What point is there in eating if I’m unable to sing?” Bob asked.

What could you possibly sing about? she wondered. You sit in this room, shut off from the world and full of resentment, and expect to sing songs about love? You’ve forgotten what it’s like to love. You all but ignore me. You only yell at your children. You blame us for everything that is and everything that never was. Catherine’s face tensed as more words jumped to the tip of her tongue.

“What?” Bob seethed. He dropped his hands onto the piano keys and shook the room with sound.

Do you still blame me? she wondered, for getting pregnant all those years ago? Catherine shook her head and bit her tongue. Her husband’s eyes narrowed to greedy slits. She left the room and closed the door.

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