Airless by Davey Houle
She was standing barefoot at the refrigerator, holding open the door, when the panic hit her. Because there was no room anymore. In her life. With the husband she loved deeply but was no longer in love with. With the child, the little boy, they never should have had, she sees that now. And with all the desires and disappointments and bad decisions and compromises each equally forgotten but still crowding her out. It wasn’t helping that she was telling herself out loud, It’s OK, just relax—to try and talk herself down, but to her it sounded like the voice inside her head—like she was reading or admonishing herself to herself.
There was no turning back once the panic set in. Now it was a matter of controlling it. Or riding it out. Those were the only two options that ever occurred to her.
Get a hold of yourself, she said, again out loud. She broke out in a sweat. The cold from the open refrigerator poured down her legs, which at least gave her something to focus on. Instead of running mental loops of all the things she’d done wrong she could imagine how clean socks or kicking furiously under the covers would warm her feet. OK, that’s better.
She made her way to the counter. Her face scrutinized its reflection in the window above the sink. It was night out, so in that bright kitchen the window was as good as a mirror. Her features looked like someone else’s. It calmed her to imagine some other womanmotherwife feeling so boxed in. There you go, she saw herself saying. Her vision widened. So much better. She was coming back.
Behind her the child entered the room holding an empty bag of microwave popcorn. Mom, who are you talking to? Close behind was the husband. He placed his hands on the boy’s shoulders. She stiffened, didn’t turn around. Hon, you gonna close that fridge?
Davey Houle is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. He’s finishing up a collection of stories called “Sheer Human Perversity.” Some of those stories are here.
© 2013, Metazen.