Monday, March 18, 2013

Cord of Four Strands

She sits on the edge of the bed, picking at the frays on her fingernails. Waiting.
He stands by the door, holding the cool handle, tapping his eyelids against his eyes. Crying.
She picks at her fingernails. They’re bleeding.
He grips the handle harder. It’s going to break.
She peeks up from underneath her guilty, black eyelashes. He turns his body so he can feel her eyes moving over his strong, unmoving shoulders. He flicks his eyes to her yellow hair, but refuses to catch it. Refuses to look her in the soul.
He knows she can see his warm, slippery tears dripping down his cheek. Into his mouth. The salty taste licking at his tongue and onto his slick cheeks.
She bites her tongue, gripping her fingers into the soft comforter, into the mattress, pushing to the ground. Her legs tighten, she bites harder. Her mouth starts swimming in bitter wine, the bitter taste.
It’s betrayal.
She can taste his blood, his pain, his ignorance.
“How could you do this to me?” It sounds cold and stale. The air grabs at the words and slaps its hands together, crushing them like a fly. It’s gone. It’s silent. She swallows blood.
“I hate myself.” Flat.
Her throat pushes the words out. It’s what she must say.
“I love you.” A mother falls on her knees. Watches the piercing of her son. A daughter slaps her hand to her mouth. Watches the train plow over her father. A husband screams in pain. Watches the dead body of his wife at the bottom of the tub.
She clenches her teeth, tears dripping down her face, forcing something out of her pores. Pushing from within for whatever will escape her. Get it out.
“I’m sorry.” Empty.
He opens the door, and instinct grabs him by the neck and twists his eyes. They lock on hers. Milliseconds tick and tick and tick. She catches his pain. He catches her emptiness.
He shuts the door, walks back to her. The crisp air pushing at his legs. He must. He must.
She moves over on the bed, makes room for him to sit on the crinkled comforter that she sinks her fingernails into.
“We’ll fix this,” he tells her.
“I don’t want to,” she tells him.
“We’ll fix this,” he says.
She clenches her mouth shut and imagines the other one. The other one’s blue eyes, his yellow hair, his white teeth, his strong arms, his tender touch, his sweet whispers into her electric ears, she sighs.
She opens her eyes to his brown eyes, his brown hair, his crooked teeth, his gentle hands, his determined jaw, she sighs.
He waits. His eyes clouding, her fingers bloody, his abs clenching, her throat aching, their space invaded.
She unleashes her hands from the bed and sets one on his firm lap, the other on hers.
He breathes, feels the air cooling, feels the space emptying, feels the other one draining from her body.
She lays her head on his soft shoulder, his long hair brushing her cheek. She smells his scent, nothing describable, just him.
Breathing it in, whimpering, “We’ll fix this.”


  1. I'm going to have to read this again later. I am lost. Is she a psychiatrist for people who have suffered traumatic losses?

    1. They are husband and wife. She cheated on her husband, and this is the moment where she has just confessed to him that she has been unfaithful.
      P.S: I wish I knew your name!

  2. I didn't catch the husband and wife thing; I thought they were just dating, maybe in their 20's. Question: why the title?

    1. The title reveals that they're married. It's a biblical allusion: they're religious and that's why the husband didn't leave her. She's cheating on him and the "other one" is the forth cord.

  3. I feel smart because I totally got the allusion in the title (thanks to Pastor Wray's pre-marital counseling, which I assume you and Daniel are in the middle of, huh?) And while I initially wasn't sure who betrayed whom in the relationship, I figured out that it was her soon enough. But I've been one of the four cords (not in a legal marriage, but in the biblical/emotional sense) and this scene brought back some bad memories. Very realistic, very emotional, very raw.

    1. I'm so glad you understood! Everything you need to know is hidden in the story, so the idea is that you'll go back and read it again and something else will suddenly make sense.
      Thank you for your feedback!