From a photo prompt, 10.12.21

I came across this vignette yesterday (03.16.23) in a composition notebook I must have taken me to a workshop. On the previous page, above a different story, I’d written “Photo Prompt” and the date, so I’m assuming this story was written the same way. I was surprised at how much I liked it. When so frequently I cringe at my past writings, it was nice to think, “Hey that’s not too shabby,” instead. So here you go.

She sips her coffee, pulling it gurgling over her lips, slipping over her teeth like burglars over a garden wall, bypassing the sides of her tongue, sloshing right over the top, burning her throat, her esophagus, resting warm in the furnace of her belly where she keeps her anger for him charging like a battery.

Without it, without him, what would she be? Her life is wrapped around her anger like spider’s silk around a furious wasp. If she pulled the strands apart to peek inside, would she be able to weave them back together?

I remember this photo. It was taken from right behind a man’s head, so all you saw was an out-of-focus shot of his hair, but sitting across from him was a woman (I presumed his wife), holding a steaming mug of coffee to her mouth. The mug obscured everything but her eyes, which were slightly crinkled at the corners, as though she were smiling. But there was something a little sinister in her expression, like she was merely biding her time while waiting for the poison she’d slipped in his mug to take effect.

I recognized that feeling, that bitter resentment. In one of my previous relationships before I met my husband, I was with a man who turned out to be a barely-functioning alcoholic. He kept up appearances just long enough to really hook me, and then before I understood what was happening, I was stuck with this angry wasp in my belly. I was furious with him, disappointed in myself, and terrified of what would happen if I let it go.

Long story short – how I got out of that relationship, again in metaphor, was I DID let the wasp go and, like any smart person does, I immediately ran in the opposite direction and I didn’t look back until I was positive it was out of my life forever.

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