Series I – Stand Off: Chapter 4 – Pulling Thorns

Tom reached for the keys near Kristen’s collapsed legs. They were sprawled out in a neat row with each one overlapping a portion of the other, like a revealed hand of cards. The key-chain was at the other end of the key-ring; as if it was trying to escape the bind it had with the keys. All were sharing this ring like a disproportional solar system, where all the planets were the keys, and the key-chain was the sun. And all seemed to be striving to hide from this sun. When he grabbed them, they all collapsed into his hand.

Tom rose with his other hand extended toward Kristen and offered it to help her up as soon as he arrived at his feet. She ignored it and instead reached for the doorknob.

“Here,” she brought her hand that wasn’t on the doorknob toward the keys in his, “you don’t know which key it is.”

“You’re right, I don’t,” he said.

Her eyes were transfixed to the welcome mat as she gently moved to grab the keys. There was a pause before Thomas dropped them into her opened hand and another pause after they fell into her palm. She slowly turned away from him and toward the front door’s keyhole with little movement from anything else besides her waist and feet. Her movement did not gradually mature either as she shifted through the keys. Thomas watched her and noticed that she was just flipping them over each other with no attention to which one she was looking for, so he made an effort to interfere.

“Here let me,” he said.

Thomas extended his hand to grab them, but she found the front door key when he began to move his arm in her direction. His arm didn’t stop but followed hers as she brought the key to the door; however, it did stop when she slid it right into the door’s lock. The noise it made, the clunk as the dead bolt disengaged from the strike plate right after she twisted the key had brought his arm back to his side. When she stepped through the threshold along with the door in her wake, her heel struck the wooden floor with a clack, which caused him to remain silent. Her heels continued to clack against the floor as loud as the first as she walked further into the living room – the room where she left the front door agape for him to enter – and toward the kitchen. They hit the wooden floor with intervals that were consistently apart and he followed them into the house.

“Shut the door,” she said as she threw her purse on the couch continuing into the kitchen.

Thomas didn’t say anything as he was doing so with a steady motion, following the door until it met the threshold and his palm on the door’s edge met the inside rosewood frame. When he turned around to face the kitchen, he saw that the fridge was open.

“This is a nice place,” he said trying to refrain from looking at the hanging pictures on the walls.

Thomas’ attention away from the walls was sustained by focusing on Kristen. She didn’t answer as she was skimming the refrigerator door’s contents while leaning back on one foot and supporting her head by the chin with her hand. He couldn’t see but deduced that her arm was resting on the other as it may have been tucked into her abdomen for her to appear in the way that he saw her, behind the fridge door. He walked past the couch that was across from the television on an oak washed cabinet and continued into the dining room with a table set for four.

“So, your mother still makes pottery in her spare time?”

“What?” Kristen didn’t look up.

“These plates and bowls.” Thomas moved his hand over the dining table as if a wand was in his hand, swirling it around.

“Yeah,” she said. She paused a moment as if something in the fridge caught her attention, “she sent me a set last Hanukah,” she continued.

“It looks nice,” he brought his hand down and stared at the set for another moment, watching the dust particles float and fall onto each piece – one settling next to the other before it.

“Do you want anything to drink?” She asked.

“I am OK, thanks though.” Thomas took his jacket off and draped it over one of the dining room chairs while still staring at the table’s display.

The sound of her heels against the kitchen tile stole his attention from the pottery and onto the opened refrigerator door. Kristen had a bottle of wine and was walking to place it onto the small rounded kitchen table across the fridge. It was pressed up against the only window that overlooked the backyard.

As she walked toward the table, Thomas walked toward the opened door of the refrigerator. It rested against the kitchen’s wall that was shared as the dining room’s wall from the other side and it only took him a few extra steps before he was right above the door. His approaching the door caused her to turn around after placing the bottle on the table. He was about to shut it.

“Hold on,” she said.

The sound of her heels clacking against the tile intensified as she walked to the door until they abruptly stopped when she grabbed a store-branded water bottle from one of the shelves. She ferociously untwisted its cap and brought the opened nozzle to her lips followed by a satisfying noise as she drank. Right after the first gulp, she waved her free hand laterally, indicating to Thomas to shut the door. Her eyes widened after a few passes of her hand and it only took a few more for him to understand what she meant by the gesture. He raised an eyebrow and with a smile, gently pushed the door with his index finger and as the door met the frame of the fridge, rattles from every glass bottle and jar in the shelves of the door synchronized to one shaping sound. The simultaneous rattling ceased almost instantaneously when the sound of her throat gulping the water down ended, when she finished the bottle.

She crushed the plastic-bottle after drawing it away from her mouth and tossed it into the recycling bin next to the back door. The sound of the empty trash bag’s sides grazing it as it made its way to bottom of the bin echoed after it landed.

“Hey, uh . . . Kristen,” Thomas moved toward her as she grabbed a wine glass from the cupboard.

“Tom, I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.

“Then why am I here?” Thomas snapped, but with little effort to sound frustrated.

“I just don’t want to be alone,” she moved the glass from the cupboard above to the counter below. Thomas moved to lean on the fridge door, putting his hands into his pockets.

“What about George, where is he?” he asked.

Kristen placed both of her hands on the edge of the counter shoulder-width apart and leaned forward until she was just above the empty wine glass.

“He’s,” she let out a faint sigh, “he’s at his parents for the weekend.”

“Does he know what happened to you, about the . . .”

“No,” she interrupted.

“When did it happen?” Thomas pushed himself off of the fridge with his hands still in his pockets, “did you tell him?!”

Kristen turned her head toward him while still leaning over the empty glass.

“Hey Tom,” her voice started to pitch, “you’re not the police, or my mother you know – OK – I just need someone here. That’s all.” Thomas peered down to the floor.

“Please,” she said as she turned her head toward him, “no more questions.” Her eyes pierced into his as he brought his head back up to look at her.

“Listen,” he said, “I don’t mean to pry, but uh . . .”

“What Thomas,” She snapped.

“I, I want to do something about it,” he said as his frustration subsided into a grave concern.

“There’s nothing that can be done!”

She snatched the glass off of the counter and stormed toward the wine bottle she placed on the table across the kitchen. Her heels crashed against the tile that created a jarring noise in Thomas’ eardrums. The noise coerced him to follow her with one of his hands out of the pocket and in her direction. She grabbed the bottle to lift it and pour its contents into the glass.

“Who was he Kristen, can you at least tell me who?”

“UGH!” Kristen poured the wine to the brim of the glass, “even if I tell you – what happened, who it was – what are you going to do about it?!” She raised the glass to her mouth without spilling its contents and catapulted half of it down her esophagus. Thomas watched her swig until she lowered the glass to her hip and leaned against the lip of the table. She held the glass with  poised elegance as she locked her eyes with his while she continued to speak.

“What will it prove to you anyway? – That I am still that fucking whore you wanted to marry so many years ago?!” Her face didn’t express any vile disdain; she just shrugged her left shoulder up toward her head accompanied with a spontaneous frown.

Thomas’ hand fell against his thigh and his posture sagged a bit toward her along with his jaw slightly dropping.

“I never called you that – ever.”

Her eyes fell to the floor and it seemed to Thomas that she was about to cry. Her face held a gloom and it grew darker and darker as her head began to follow the path of her eyes down to the floor. Under the pale illumination of the kitchen’s light and with the rotation of its blades, Thomas took it upon himself to embrace her, but just before he was about to engage, she directed her head up toward him. She wasn’t crying.

“Well, I am not telling George,” she swigged the last of the wine that was in her glass and then firmly placed that glass next to the bottle without turning around.

A silence followed her remark until it was broken by a sound of a ping from the clock on the stove. It was midnight. Kristen looked at the time while Thomas kept his eyes on her with a tendered gaze.

“Why are you cheating Kristen?” he asked.

Kristen whipped her head back at him and glared.

“Get the fuck out,” she yelled, “just get out.”

She brought her hand toward his face, but didn’t touch him and he didn’t wince. He just kept that gaze upon her and listened.

“If you are going to keep asking questions about it – I am not going to answer I – I just want to forget!” Her glare started to rattle and her teeth started to clench, “UGH, I should have never called you!” Her suspended hand clenched as well, into a fist and she brought that fist down swiftly through the air. She turned and slammed her hands on the lip of the table and peered up at her reflection in the window. His reflection was right behind hers.

“Hey,” Thomas moved a bit closer, “hey I’ll stop, OK?” He said.

Her eyes met his in the reflection of the window.

“How about I just go for a walk and when I come back,” he shrugged his shoulders, “I’ll just stay down here and you can go upstairs and sleep or something.”

She tilted her head down toward the windowsill for a minute seemingly in catatonia.

“What about your pants,” she said. When she looked back up, Thomas was opening the front door.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: