“This week, like I told you.”
“Do you know which day this week?”
“Can you give me break?!! I’m sick and you’re pressuring me for money!”
“I asked a reasonable question. You need to get a grip. Just say you don’t know if you don’t.”
Dialogues go like this sometimes in long-term relationships. And it is hard to imagine that the speakers still love each other. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” Strother Martin says in Cool Hand Luke.
Lurking behind this simple conversation lies fear, frustration and comfort. The backstory is the whole story because the front story makes little sense. One world colliding with another, each orbiting a separate sun.
HE awoke sick at a time far too stressful to be sick, the holidays. And SHE asked a simple question at the wrong time, when HE was off to work feeling like shit. SHE asks, unsuspecting of the pending attack awaiting a target, for what gives him a great deal of stress and frustration: not enough money earned from working a demanding job HE detests when so sick.
Her voice–after so many, many years–triggers both irritation and security, a safety net landing when all of the rest of it, everything else dissatisfies, falls down or short. SHE provides both acceptance and provocation. HE depends on her loving him warts and all. And so HE abuses with abandon with cutting words never sliced into another human being. And SHE abides, knowing that tests far greater than this one have passed, their history too deep. Until SHE turns tables on him.