She Knows

by Stan Long

"She knows," muttered Jimmy Taggart as he hung his coat in the hall closet.

He could tell by the clatter his wife Clare was making in the kitchen she was angry. He had told her he'd be working late, and having dinner out, except it was a lie. Instead, for the last couple of hours or so, he'd been dicking Janice her best friend, and somehow she'd found out.

Warily he approached the kitchen.

"I heard you come in."

"You mad or something?"

"You bet I am. I came home early and caught Ashley locked in her bedroom with Louis - you know, the French kid in her class. She didn't know I was home, so she thought they'd make out in secret. But the noise--you should have heard them at it."

His wife had not stopped unloading the dishwasher and with her back to him, was keeping up the angry clatter as she stowed the cutlery and china.

"I kicked him out then rubbed her nose in it. Called her a slut, pointed out the spent packets and a couple of drooling condoms among the kleenex on the floor."

"She's sixteen and they were practicing safe sex," said Jimmy.

If he didn't cool her off now, he knew from long experience, one thing would lead to another and his life would be the shits for days. Like the first time she'd stumbled upon his philandering. She'd smashed their wedding photograph on the bedroom floor and had told him, "That's it buster. From now on you sleep on the couch."

And he had, for about a year. 

But Clare, caught up in her domestic scene, continued.

"She screamed at me, It's not fair. Leave me alone. You and dad do it, and I'm old enough. There, I lost it. Like fuck you are, I said. You're grounded. Which was a pity, since I'd never swore at her before."

At that, Clare turned, with a family heirloom in her hands, a gorgeous antique, Wedgewood soup tureen, his mother had willed them. They paused a moment, he with an anxious look on his face, she like she was fit to murder him. Then theatrically, casually, with her eyes balefully fixed upon his, she dropped it on the tiled kitchen floor. 

Oh, he'd been right, she'd known all along.

BIO: Stan Long lives mostly in his head, a place he likes except when his mind and his screen go blank, then he must wait like some patient fisherman in an ice hut on a winter lake and wait for shapes to rise and be given form that he might make sense of them.