All You’ve Ever Cared About

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She took both mugs from the table and threw them into the wall behind his head. He stayed seated and took out his tobacco and papers. 

“That’s it, that’s it,” he told his twitching fingers. “Smash it all up.”

She swung her arms across the table top, sending the plates and cutlery crashing. She opened the cupboard and started grabbing things at random and throwing them across the room. 

“Shit, shit, shit!” she howled, pivoting on each syllable. “All you’ve ever cared about, is your shit!” 

“Mmm,” he said.

She slowed down, then hesitated: most of their kitchen stuff was plastic, from the PoundStore, and would just bounce if she threw it. She threw it anyway. Heard it clatter robustly. Then she threw open the fridge door: it was pitiful. Some condiments, a few eggs, marge, packet ham. She screamed into the fridge. She yanked out the trays and stomped on its contents. The ketchup and mayo bottles cracked, spurting thick jets over the lino. Nothing happened to the ham except bits got stuck to her shoe and she screamed again. She hurled the eggs clean across the room and they became jellied spiders on the wall behind him, streaming faster where they mixed with the leftover tea in the mugs. He took a long drag and padded his shoulders and back for debris. 

She opened the blue glass-fronted cupboard just to see his shoulders tense. Inside were ten glass and ceramic pieces that they never used. A teapot shaped like a bulldog. A measuring jug with a golliwog on it. She picked up the jug and looked at him calmly. There was a hint of a smile on her red-and-white face. Her tears glistened.

“Break any of it,” he said, his face the stillest thing in the room, “and I’ll break your face.” 

Then the smile broke into a laugh that shook her from head to toe. She put it back and closed the cupboard. By the time she turned around, she was crying again and still shaking. She slumped to the floor. 

“All you care about is your shit. ‘Don’t touch my shit.’ ‘Where’s my shit?’ You don’t care about real people. You don’t care about me.”

“Oh. Are you done?”

“No.” 

He went to the kettle, filled it to the top and set it. She sat with her arms around her knees and pulled away the hair where it stuck to her face so she could watch him. He reached around in the cupboards under the sink and took out a sponge, a fraying washcloth, a yellow plastic bucket and some kitchen spray. He squirted a little washing-up liquid into the base of the bucket and ran some hot water in it, then topped it up from the kettle. He did all this wearing a bland expression, peering occasionally out of the window or at the calendar pinned above the sink. 

“Well,” she said, “say something.”

“No.” 

She gasped long and loud but muffled by the plashing hot water. 

“I have to go.” 

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Stories
No Blank Spaces
No Blank Spaces

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