Lately, they had been fighting more than ever. The constant tiptoeing around Eve´s feelings left him agitated and nervous, because he feared that he might make her snap at him, if he said words she could misinterpret or touch upon topics that had let to fights before. After the call from her mother, she had started to complain about her complicated family, her over-protective, over-nosy mother who liked to butt in, her choleric father who loved to pick a fight and wasn´t picky with whom he was picking the fight with and who loved to yell at the newspaper, the TV, the mail man, the driving public, and preferably at his daughters whom he thought did not live up to his expectations. And there was always her sister, the bright, shining hope of the clan who had raised the bar so high that it was impossible for Eve to reach it, which was what troubled her immensely, seeing that she was the older sister and should therefore be the one to set the high standards.
What will all the drama going on in her family and the sad fact that there was nothing she could do about it, Eve projected it on their relationship and she went from ranting about her family to yelling at him in one fell swoop. He wasn´t even sure what she was complaining about, but he sensed that remaining silent was the best thing to do. She was pacing up and down in the living room, not even looking at him, but yelling, complaining, ranting, nagging all the time, making a mess of the living room by picking up things and putting them down someplace else, but he sensed that she didn´t even notice what she was doing, so he didn´t say anything. He just sat there and watched and waited.
Sure enough, after a while, the empty complaints stopped and soon she was really diving right into the matter, uncovering the cracks in their relationship´s foundation and rubbing salt in the open wounds of the barely alive being inside him that once had sported rosy cheeks and a child-like smile, happy and content, and that was now crying silently, hiding in a dark corner, injured and scared.
He knew he should have stopped her, because once she started to really dig out the old reasons why their relationship had suffered these dangerous cracks – which they had tried to fix with as much cellotape as they could find – there was no stopping her. She would only let go once she had made him feel entirely worthless and really, really very yearningly longing for a gun to blow his useless brains out with.
Eve was complaining about his lack of sense of order, his habit of leaving dirty socks on the floor in the bathroom rather than putting them into the washer or the hamper. That made her discuss his poor housekeeping skills, the fact that he never volunteered to do the laundry, to do the dishes, vacuum, dust, clean up or take out the garbage, change light bulbs, clean the windows, wash the curtains, neatly fold and pile the laundry or rearrange the clothes in their wardrobe according to the season. He never cooked, never bought groceries, only always ate and drunk and consumed without thinking about where the food came from and who had carried it up the seven flights of stairs. He knew he should have said that she was exaggerating to the point of ridicule, but that would have made her even madder. She looked at him as if she wanted him to say something, to spark her rage even more, but he remained silent and so she lunged at the next topic instead.
Discussing the fact that he had not been entirely faithful was her favorite part of every fight, and even though he knew that after having been called a dirty, sexist and chauvinist pig with no sense of how to keep a house clean or how to satisfy a woman, the fact that she had already started to blame him for everything that had went wrong in their relationship because of his long-term affair also meant that his fight was nearing its end and that she would soon call him useless and worthless and disgusting and would flee into the bedroom and slam the door so hard that the glasses on the shelves would start rattling, he still knew that this last bit would hurt him greatly.
Knowing that there was nothing he could do, he continued watching her, awaiting the last whiplash that would cause his soul to tremble within the confines of his body, the mere shell that kept his soul from vanishing into thin air and disappearing altogether; awaiting the last of her numerous insults that made him believe that there was no hope for their relationship anymore, let alone for their love. He felt her slipping through his fingers, with every word she said she drifted farther away from him, escaping his once so tight grip on their relationship. It was like trying to hold water in your cupped hands, impossible to begin with, improbable to execute, yet he tried, he tried, he tried.
And the more she slipped from his fingers, drops escaping their tight prison of cupped hands, he sensed he still loved her and the baby she carried, dearly and honestly and most genuinely. And so he endured her insults, endured the hate she threw his way, steadily gazed back at her when she pierced him with fiery glances that nonetheless made his soul curl up in a fetus position and made it hum to itself to drown out the noise of her anger that echoed through him even days after the fight. He accepted all her anger, all her frustration, the feelings her anger aroused in him that were darker than the darkest night and more horrifying than anything he had ever seen, and he tried to live with it, even though he knew that the price he had to pay for doing what was right was that his heart was now broken beyond repair and his soul had been shattered into so many tiny pieces that it was impossible for him to put them back together ever again.