Humble Pie

Yvonne Reached over the stove and closed the window, suffocating the sweet smell of baked goods within her tiny kitchen. The sun, unwilling to set just yet, let its orange light coruscate through the shutters.

The room fell still. Her silence was thick, her limbs heavy, and her fresh bruises sore. Yvonne sucked back the last of a cigarette, its sizzle screeching through the room until it was almost an echo. 

She stood wide-eyed; her consciousness watching  from somewhere outside of her body, floating among the tarred nicotine smoke and the swirling blueberry-scented heat. The fog grew heavy around her, but she didn’t bat an eye.

When Yvonne heard his car pull into the driveway, she dropped the wilted butt into the sink and exhaled the last of its unsavory fumes. Donning her oven mitts, she pulled the oven door open and peeked inside at her masterpiece. The blueberry pie was perfectly sculpted and was perhaps the most delectable image she had ever seen in her own home. She had been so patient with it, so tender and cautious. After all, any misstep would spell disaster, and Yvonne was through with disasters.

His footsteps thumped through the empty halls and trailed into a back room. He hadn’t even said hello. The nerve of him – it shouldn’t surprise her anymore.

Yvonne placed the pie on the white wooden table, a sharp edged spatula neatly at its side. There were no heart palpitations, no shivers; no indications of anxiety at all. Her peace had been made.

He entered the kitchen, sniffing his way to the pie like a dog. When he spotted the nectarous dessert on display just for him, he smiled. It wasn’t a genuine smile, or a thankful one. It was a smile of triumph. He was filled with pride at the idea that he had once again smacked some sense into his feeble little wife. The pie, he thought, was his reward – an assurance that she had been put in her place.

For too long, Yvonne figured out that morning, domesticity had been thought of as synonymous with docile. For too long, Yvonne realized that morning, she had let it be. Well, not anymore.

She picked up the spatula, gleaming in the dying sunlight still trying to seep through. She watched him seat himself, eager to be served, like a royal who thinks he has no enemies when the whole court is plotting against him. She almost smiled, but that would be a misstep.

The hunk of pie, perfectly cut, was surely a sight to remember. Its glazed crust, its prominent fruit filling – everything about it was so inviting. And, so deceitful.

Yvonne backed away from the table, faced the sink, and wordlessly set to work on the dishes. It was only when she heard the gurgling begin to creep out of his throat the she let herself smirk. At first, it was slight but as the sound of struggle behind her increased so too did her sense of victory. Soon enough, the smile had taken over her entire being.

Until that moment, she had forgotten what it was to be happy.

Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©

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