On Our Five Year Anniversary: A Rose
My wife has kohl-rimmed eyes, snow-flake braids, and a scarlet mouth that falls open every time I say something stupid. She thinks she’s a rose. I disagree. My wife’s no rose.
I let out a stunned “Aaaagh” when I wake up to over-sized thorns digging into my palm.
She looks up, her branch of a hand finally letting go.
From my haunch over the kitchen table I stare at her. Somewhere under those petals she lifts a taut brow then frowns.
“What do you want for breakfast?”
“The usual.” I lean forward to catch a whiff.
She serves freshly backed wafers.
At night, the emptiness she usually creates when pushing herself to the farthest side of the bed is, now, occupied by her thorny stalk, and her leafy branches. Her petals taste like earth, tears, and bark, and those freshly baked wafers. I eat the shadow of her. She might just taste better inside cream puff filling, the perfect place to hide a corpse or a rose, but my wife’s no rose.
On Our Ten Year Anniversary: The Krivopeta
My wife’s a book-gawker not an avid reader. She stares at the same lines in the same book every day. Fairytales. She believes she’s otherworldly. I disagree. My wife’s no goddess, not even a she-demon.
There’s a storm outside. I wait for her to come home. I’m hungry.
The doorbell rings. I peep through the spyhole but no one’s there. The doorbell rings again.
She looks like a yogi, only one in a reversed lotus position. She crawls in, her hands fanning about like a swimmer. I stand tall over her. My neck hurts when I look down too much.
She serves me mushroom soup without mushrooms, hides my shoes in the cupboard. Tells me where I left my glasses last year, not last night. I ask her to forward my work emails to clients, she sends them to my mother.
I have to disembark and go round to her side to see her face. My neck hurts again. She takes up more than half the bed, her feet filling the emptiness now. They smell like my favourite Gorgonzola. We do it reverse brute-style because she thinks she’s otherworldly, a goddess, a she-monster.
But she’s not.
Three decades into this marriage: A Bird.
She looks outside the window. Her blank stare is cheery.
I swing my focus to where she’s pointing. I can only hear the watery sounds of our old pipes.
“Did you know a worm had five hearts?”
Another one of her non-sense antics.
“Damn you woman! Go cook us some lunch!”
My wife’s like that candle-lit chandelier in the hall. They call it antique. I think it’s just useless.
I let out a sigh the color of our moonlit kitchen. I’m tired of gazing into mirrors, tired of having to cook my own lunch. Nothing fills the emptiness in bed except the broken arpeggios that bounce off her grand piano. My wife never laid a finger on the damned thing, and now it won’t stop. I close my eyes and lean into the tune. She’s talking to me, as theatrical as ever. Will she ever stop? I stare at the corner of the ceiling expecting to find some sort of answer. A bird swoops in right past the wide-open window landing on her purple Limoges plate. I wonder if there’s a worm somewhere.
Don’t let the sink fill up with dirty dishes.
Don’t drink straight from the bottle.
Don’t chew too loud when you eat and don’t forget to feed the cat—yes we have a cat.
Don’t forget to renew our Netflix subscription.
Don’t rub your eyes much, and wash your hands before you eat.
This feels good. I know that now you cook for a party of one and that you’re not used to it. I was never really there for a twosome. You made sure of that.
I hope you’re enjoying it,
Now let me introduce myself, for all our years together, I believe I’ve never had the chance.
I’ve always been a tea-tiny girl, an interesting cry-baby with a mango heart who often took the longest shortcuts and believed the future can never be real.
But in the end, I turned into everything you called me:
An unnecessary expenditure.
and an Oh-My-Blimey inflatable orchestra.
Riham Adly worked as a volunteer editor in 101 words magazine and is currently a first reader/marketing coordinator in Vestal Review magazine.
She is also a creative writing instructor with several short stories published in literary journals such Vestal Review, Page&Spine, Café lit, The Ekphrastic Review, For The Sonorous, Fictional Café, Paragraph Planet, Visual Verse, Spillwords, with forthcoming stories in Connotation Press, Writing in a Woman’s Voice magazines, Carp Arte, and Soft Cartel.
Her story “The Darker Side of the Moon” won the MAKAN Award in 2013 and was published in an anthology by the same name.
Riham lives with her family in Gizah, Egypt.