The Cycle of Domesticity: A Short Fiction


“I offered romance to you by mistake,” she said as she picked at the bed linens.

Silence permeated the air, magnifying little household sounds like the ticking of the clock, the psychotic electronic whir of the ceiling fan, the tumble tumble tumbling of the dryer; domesticity droning on in the background of a monumental something.

“I offered romance to you by mistake,” she said again, with a firmer tone.

Silence still prevailed in the wake of her litany.

She tried a different approach. She stood up and forced her hand into a fist. She felt uncomfortable with her fingernails digging into the soft pad of her flesh. “I said, I offered romance to you by mistake!” she screamed as she punched the goose-down of the pillow.


She adjusted the pillow just so and walked to the dresser. Grabbing a bottle of perfume he had purchased her, she threw it against the wall in a scattering of memories— the night she watched Philadelphia in his arms as tears silently fell down her cheeks because an emaciated Tom Hanks reminded her of her uncle who had passed, the night they got so drunk she lost her phone on the bike trail but she didn’t care because she felt so alive wearing his hat and saying things like he said all in good jest to the amusement of all of their friends, the night she said please don’t say you love me, please don’t after 2 months of dating because the thought of love was so constricting and terrifying and he stayed up all night crying because he did, the first time they had sex and she stopped him mid-thrust to ask what was going on with them because she didn’t want to feel like a whore and he laughed and said I hope you are my girlfriend, their first Christmas with his family and she accidentally called him by her ex’s name, their trip to the coast and the fear they would have nothing to talk about when alone together for 3 days, how he looked like a beat poet with his sunglasses sitting on the beach and puffing on a pipe and how the scene made her heart melt much like the intoxicating words of Allen Ginsberg, their moving in together in a quaintly painted picture of transitory happiness, his heavy drinking and the breaking of inanimate objects with inebriated clumsiness, the nights he didn’t come home at all and she would call her best friend on the phone at 3 in the morning in pieces as her friend tried rapidly to stitch her back together with telephone wires and her softly saying this is the last time I let him do this to me, how it was not the last time she left him make her feel alone and abandoned, how he never helped around the house and the dishes sat piled and waiting to be washed, how he tried so hard this last anniversary to be romantic and miserably failed and she pacified him by letting them do what they always did which was look through the eyes of their colored TV and she hated herself because she wanted more.

“I offered romance to you by mis—,” she said, losing her resolve. She suddenly knew how a microscopic organism felt—so small it can’t be seen by the naked eye but under a microscope naked, exposed, and vulnerable.

She looked at herself in the vanity mirror with a cool steady gaze. Her skin looked translucent and her eyes like bits of glaciers so blue from crying. Her face was flushed. She looked herself in the eye and said with a purpose, “I offered romance to you by mistake.” This time she felt like she meant it. She could feel the backbone and marrow and the nerves of it—raw and real and ripping. The whole world seemed to quiet, even the electric cycle of domesticity, as she heard his car pull into the drive and she found her voice.


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