I hit him where it wouldn’t show, while he wasn’t looking. I was a hunter stalking prey. In sock feet. A cat, legs moving body in a single plane. Eyes focused on target: the meaty part of his buttocks. The closest part of him to me. His body was doubled over a deep sink, washing out supper bowls.
I would hit through my aim, just like Dad taught me. Kneeling down to my level, holding up his hands, cupped slightly. Anticipating the size of my tiny fists. I could never bring myself to do it, though. We would go again and again, his frustration building like red in his throat. Tears filling up behind my eyes. He demanded to know what I would do if he were a stranger.
Kurt and I had been married for thirteen years. He was no stranger. But it seemed like good practice. I pulled my arm back until my shoulder blade met ribs. Breathless. The still moment before the pounce. He didn’t see the reflection of me in the kitchen window. He was looking down, working out some grime with the edge of a scrub pad.
Dad wouldn’t let me split wood. I was nine and my doughy little brother was seven, and Dad handed him the ax and said, “Here, Son.” I boiled. I used one of my new words: sexist. He met the challenge in my flared eyes with a tight side-smirk and handed me the ax. I could barely lift the head off the ground.
Kurt yelped in surprise and pain. His eyes like prey eyes asking, Why? I could only laugh, gasping for breath, deep long sucks of air, tears streaming down my face. For the rest of the night he kept telling me how much it still hurt, how he could have broken that dish, that precious dish. So delicate.
I beamed, satisfied.