“Could you not?” he says, pulling his salsa closer. “Natural and biodegradable are
different than ingestible.”
I keep my eyes on the rag, scrubbing over the spills. Our kitchen is large, beautiful. John sits at a barstool, three feet from where I’m wiping off residue. No spray has come close to him.
“Maybe,” I say. “But this won’t hurt you.”
Then I remember an argument seven years earlier.
We lived in our old house, the one John had bought with his first wife. I was naïve. I was twenty-four. I thought we were in love, even when he was mean.
I sat on the corner seat of our leather couch. I tried to watch the flames in the fireplace dance. I wanted to be them. Free. Moving. Instead, I was motionless. My muscles stiffened. My eyelids drooped. John got mad when they did. He’d hold them up so I had to look at him. He’d grip my shoulders and shake me or cup my face. I couldn’t turn away. So I waited there. The fight wasn’t over.
John came in. He held a bottle of Clorox. He stood in front of me.
I squeezed my eyes shut and pursed my lips.
I held my hands in front of my face, grimacing, tucking my chin, blotting the droplets.
“Stop it. I’m listening. Just tell me what you want to say.”
“You’re nasty,” John said. “You need to be cleaned.”
“Leave me the fuck alone!” I yelled, licking my lips. I used my thumbs to wipe across my eyes and cupped my hand to spit into it. I wiped the saliva on my thigh.
“You seem angry,” he said, sitting down. “There’s no need to raise your voice.”
I tucked my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around them, burying my head in the space between them while I blinked. I held my breath.
“It’s okay,” John said. “You’re just upset. Why don’t we try to talk now?” His hand caressed my back.
I shook my head, and John left.
I heard water running. My eyes stung. No matter how hard I wiped them, they burned. I made it worse. Wiping. Crying.
The faucet turned off. Then I felt it. Cold water poured down my face and neck. My shirt sopped. I shivered. John had dumped a pitcher of water over me. When I looked up, he was on his knees in front of me, his hands on my legs.
“Will you talk to me now please?”