Shiny Shells and Shrivelled Innards

 

The silver light of the moon slices through the downstairs windows, casting long shadows on wood, enflaming her hair with the blue of the screen.   She sits at her computer desk in the corner of the living room, beneath the painting she made for him on his birthday last year.

Her living room, she thinks, is perfectly comfortable.  It tells a story of normalcy, which she applies to herself like a layer of makeup, daily.  Purposefully.  Masking the lines, the ugly, the stuff that’s not supposed to be seen.

She has a fiancé with an earnest job and an appreciation for the way she can hem his pants.  He likes her laughter and her femininity, the way she calls him babe.   She goes to school full time, because, though she is beautiful and gregarious and could live on his salary, it’s prudent to look ambitious.  She studies late into the night, when everything is black except the street light and the lamp.

“Gotta impress my professor, babe,” she tells him and he kisses her head before he turns out their bedroom light.

  Right now, the kitchen floor smells like Pine Sol. Her school clothes are laid out on the bathroom counter and she’s carefully folded over his lunch bag into tight, neat folds over the homemade turkey sandwich, Saturday’s homemade apple muffins.

Her computer is carefully turned against the closed bedroom door,  arranged so that he can’t see her screen before she sees him. She knows how to erase tracks.  She’s been doing it for a lifetime.

In the computer, on the flip screen, is the truth that only one person knows.

It’s the way things are, the way things always will be.  You don’t know the person you’re living with.  You’ll never really know.