Posted Monday, February 1st, 2010
Donna M. Kenworthy Levy
Smitty found he could no longer relax in his own house. His wife kept spying on him. At least it felt that way.
When he did the Sudoku puzzles in the newspaper or sat in his recliner watching the sports channel, he could feel Cynthia’s presence. Nine times out of ten, he’d turn around and there she stood staring at him. It was creepy.
“What gives with you, Cyn? Why are you always looking at me?”
Instead of answering, she’d just walk away.
Smitty felt he was most protected from Cynthia’s glare when he was in the bathroom. If only he could muster the courage to lock the door, he would have felt even better. But the lock was old and made a definite scraping sound. If she heard it while passing the bathroom door as she walked down the hall, it might arouse her suspicions. Not that he was doing anything wrong.
My God, I’m starting to feel like I’m guilty of some crime. But what is my offense?
Once in the shower, Smitty would sing an array of old songs from the 60’s, while sudsing up with Mennen’s bath gel. For those ten minutes a day, he managed to rinse away all feelings of apprehension.
Smitty happened to notice Cynthia was busy ironing his shirts, so he figured he would have time to himself before he again saw those heavily lashed green orbs focusing on him. He’d taped last night’s football game. It was waiting for him on the DVR and now was the perfect time to view it. He also felt free of her probing gaze later in the afternoon while she was baking a cherry pie. It was a good opportunity to crack open that new John Gresham book.
For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what had gotten into his wife. Could it be that she’s still going through the change? But at sixty-seven?
Wanting to write down the times of day his wife usually stared at him, he kept a small pad of paper and a stubby pencil in the chest pocket of his plaid flannel shirts. Maybe the data would be important.
In the past two weeks, he noted that Cynthia paused in her housework and stared at him an average of eight times per day. It was strange how she’d take breaks during the day to come observe him, but barely glanced in his direction during meals. In fact, she rarely ever spoke to him.
Two nights ago, the light from a brass lamp woke him up. Cynthia had gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and taken a seat on the blue club chair in the corner of the room. It freaked him out to see her there, apparently watching him as he dozed. He really should have confronted her then, but he was just too tired and wanted to get back to sleep.
No doubt he should tell Dr. Mason about her strange behavior. Perhaps she’s suffering from some form of depression and the right pill would pull her out of it. She’s probably upset because she lost her figure.
The next day, Smitty approached his wife with concern in his voice. “Cynthia, Hon, I was wondering, when was the last time you went for a check-up?”
“Well, I was thinking … maybe you’re a little down these days.”
“Don’t think! Merely observe!”
“Speak English! Are you feeling okay or not?”
“I want you to watch me like I watch you.” This was said as she grabbed the garbage from under the kitchen sink and walked out the back door.
“Have you lost your mind?” he cried out after her.
As crazy as it sounded, Smitty thought about his wife’s request. Maybe if he watched what Cynthia was doing with more scrutiny, he’d get an answer to her staring obsession.
“Okay, Cyn, I’m going to do to you what you’ve been doing to me! But I’m sure you won’t like it any better than I do!”
Smitty decided to carry around a legal size pad of paper and an ink pen for his observations. He wrote down every detail about his wife’s actions during the next few days. When he re-read the notes, he couldn’t discern anything out of the ordinary. It seemed she just did chores most of the time.
He finally approached his wife. “I want you to know, Cyn, that it was a big waste of my precious time to follow you around for four days. I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but I didn’t see you do anything other than housework.”
“What’s your point here, Cynthia?”
“I made a casserole for Betty. She’s down with the flu. Would you please take it over to her?”
“Right now? It’s snowing!” Smitty didn’t like the look on his wife’s face. “Oh, all right.”
As he trudged over the snow covered sidewalk, Smitty thought about how inconsiderate his wife could be. If Betty was so sick, she probably wasn’t even hungry. Carrying the food down to her house, which was across the street on the next block, could certainly have waited until the storm passed.
When Smitty returned, he found the front door locked. Cynthia failed to answer his knocks and ringing of the doorbell. Where was that woman? He tried to peek through several windows, but all the blinds were closed.
Smitty muttered to himself as he walked around the house to the back. He started pounding on the sliding glass door and screaming for Cynthia to let him in.
He couldn’t even warm himself up in the Dodge van because he didn’t have the car keys with him.
After about ten minutes of standing and pounding on doors in the cold, he went back to Betty’s house to phone Cynthia.
“Do you know that you locked me out?”
“What do you mean by ‘Yes?’”
“You need to figure things out.” With that she hung up, and then quickly took the phone off the hook.
Betty and her husband, Frank, invited him to stay over for the night.
I can’t believe I’m sleeping at my neighbors instead of in my own bed.
Smitty returned to his house the next day. Again he could not gain entry. “You’re really making me angry, Cynthia!” he shouted through the door.
A couple of hours later after countless attempts to talk to his wife on the phone, he was able to leave a message on the answering machine. Cynthia had finally hung up the phone. “I’m no fool, Cyn. I don’t do women’s work.”
Before the sun set, he decided to walk toward his house to convince Cynthia to let him in. He certainly didn’t want to spend another night on his neighbors’ futon. Before he arrived at his destination, he saw his wife carrying suitcases to the van. She threw them in the back of the vehicle and quickly climbed in and drove away.
All Smitty could think about was getting back in the house. He was ready to break down the door, if necessary. He ran up the steps and to his relief, he found the door unlocked.
He immediately noticed a note on the dining room table. All it said was “You’re on your own.” He balled it up into a tight wad and threw it into the kitchen trash.
He leaned against the kitchen counter and scratched his head.
“It must be that menopause thing.”
Comments [post a comment]
Posted by Midge Caloggero [ email@example.com
] on Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 9:10 PM
Oh my what a great ending. I can truly envision all this happening as the story goes on. So true ~ how differently we see things from others. Another of life's lesson's. Thanks for sharing, keep on with the great writing. Can I spend a day inside your mind?
Posted by Hillary Pooley on Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 9:25 PM
Posted by SALOME DAMON on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 2:25 AM
It shows that married couples should give more attention to each other before they grow apart.
Posted by Carol Shapiro on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 9:24 PM
There have to be so many people who live together for years and are oblivious to the thoughts and feelings of their partners. So much opportunity lost.
Posted by Reba Karp [ firstname.lastname@example.org
] on Friday, February 5th, 2010 at 8:42 AM
Unfortunately, couples as they age tend to live in different worlds.
The men build a high fence around themselves to protect their interests.
They might as well put up a sign that reads "No Trespassing!"
Mature women, on the other hand, might build a fence to protect themselves from further mental abuse, but their is on difference.
The door is always open.
The authoress of Smitty told it well.