It started with toast. Every morning started the same; muted voices, bleary eyes, buttered toast. Of course, recently the butter had been replaced with thin slivers of margarine. The eyes sought cracks in the faded blue paint on the kitchen walls instead of each other. And the voices, well. What did they have to say to each other after all?
On this colourless Wednesday, six days from her next paycheck, it was wordlessly agreed that they should begin sharing slices of bread for toast. With only four slices left, it would do. She took her half-slice dry, noting the way his eyes shifted to the near-empty tub of margarine. A tiny fist beat against her swollen belly, insistent and furious. She stroked the bump absentmindedly, perfunctorily. Her due date was in less than a week. If they were lucky, it would fall after payday. At least that would allow her to put gas in the car. Otherwise, she and this angry little baby would have to make their exit from this house, this life, on a late night greyhound when he fell asleep. He wasn’t a bad man, really, and she was sure he thought he meant it when he promised that it would be the last time; the last interview he slept in for, the last woman sneaking out through the kitchen door, the last time the colour of his love was black and blue. By leaving, she was only helping him to keep his word.
Today was a good day, a morning-after day, and he brushed crumbs from his suit pants as he left the table. There was a job going in a diner in the city, close enough to her office that he could come and see her for lunch, he said. Close enough to pick her up from work. Close enough to keep an eye on her. He was doing this for her, for their son. She stayed placid and vacant as he took her face in his hands, grimacing at the already blooming flowers around her eyes. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, an act of contrition she supposed.
“Wish me luck”, he said, smoothing her hair away from her face. And she did, she truly did. She waved as he left, cradling their baby with her other hand, the image of devotion, right down to the scars. She watched him back out of the driveway, and caressed her stomach, willing them both to hang on for just a few more days. Just a few more days.