When she doesn't say a word, just smiles
A short story by Erika M Szabo
I visited a friend, Marie, a few years ago, and I noticed with surprise that everyone in her family was unusually polite and quiet. On my usual visits everyone was laughing, teasing each other and her ten years old son, Brian, was running around in one of his many hero costumes.
That day the tension was thick as honey in their home. We sat around the coffee table, had a light chat about everyday things. Brian sat close to his father on the couch and acted like a little angel. I felt the brewing tension ready to erupt from underneath the surface, and I was frantically searching for an excuse to shorten my visit. Marie sat across from me with a plotting cat expression and a slight smile on her face. Once in a while, she darted angry looks at her husband and son that lasted only for a fraction of a second.
When Marie went out to the kitchen to put the coffee on, Brian whispered to his father, "Dad, we are in big trouble."
"I know, son, because of that smile. You must remember this until you live. There is nothing more dangerous in the whole world than a quietly smiling woman. You never know if she's going to forgive you, or she's planning your slow and painful death until she comes to her final decision."
"What happened? What's wrong?" I asked.
"Well, we painted the kitchen while Marie was at work. We had such a great time and we even cleaned up by the time she got home, but as soon as she saw it, the silent treatment began. I don't know what her problem is." He sighed.
I stood up and went out to the kitchen. Marie silently looked at me with a murderous look in her eyes, lifted her arm and pointed at the walls that were dark blue with big, yellow stars painted all over it. Trying to hide a laugh that was close to erupting from my chest, "They meant well Marie, give them some credit for the effort."
"Oh, I will give it to them alright! They will pay for this for a long-long time. I specifically told them vanilla color, and look what they did!" she yelled with daggers in her eyes.
"Okay girlfriend, we are having a girl's night out." Marie opened her mouth to protest, "Go get ready, no objection!" I ordered her firmly, so she turned and went upstairs.
In the living room I told the boys, "I know you meant well, you had your fun too, but now to the store you go. Get vanilla color paint, and you will paint the walls and clean up the kitchen by the time we get home. Otherwise, you two will stay in the doghouse for a long time."
The boys looked at each other, they stood up and stormed out the front door, holding each other's hand.
You might ask:
Was it right that she showed her disapproval so clearly? Is it going to break up a happy family? Will her ten-year-old son respect her less? Will father and son bond over this even more?
Well, they're still a happy family. Brian just graduated from high school, Guy is devoted to his wife and Marie has her vanilla kitchen.
Erika M Szabo
Author of urban fantasy, magical realism novels and children's books,
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