300-word story: A man finds his partner's constant silence impossible to live with.
The alarm went off with its usual pattern of jaunty high-pitched bleeps. Inhaling so sharply that he was at risk of ingesting the duvet cover, Jim reached over and put an end to the unwelcome tune. As always, mustering the energy to get out of bed was a struggle, especially when he considered what was waiting for him downstairs.
He was tempted to give her the silent treatment today, see how she liked it. Instead, entering the living room, he swallowed his pride and wished her good morning.
There was no response.
"Hello? I said good morning."
Jim stormed past her and into the kitchen. Irritable and hurt, the three minutes waiting for the kettle to boil felt like an eternity. Once he had a cup of tea in his hand, he begrudgingly tried again.
"How are you today?"
She simply stared at him with indifference.
"Nice weather, isn't it?" His tone of voice was becoming desperate, ravenous for the tiniest scrap of affection. When none was offered, Jim gave up and prepared for work without saying another word.
After thirty minutes he was dressed for the day ahead, yet his spirits were low and he could barely face leaving the house. Then, as he was unlocking the door, a small voice called out: "Hello."
Jim ran into the living room and froze. "Hello?"
"Good morning," she replied.
His elation was palpable. "Good morning!"
"How are you today?" she asked.
"I'm fantastic!" Tears of joy rolled down his cheeks. "This is amazing, absolutely amazing. I'm so happy that you're talking after all these weeks of ignoring me. Oh, wait here just a second…"
Jim rushed into the kitchen and quickly returned holding a salty snack, which he offered to her with barely contained excitement.
"Polly want a cracker?"
Copyright © 2020 Rich Sutherland
Image: Ernie A. Stephens