Excerpted from The Silencing Properties of Snow by Georgia Witt
Marge sighed. It was a sigh that she always released after baking cookies. An exhale that yes, was from the labor of baking, but also held something melancholy to it. Something she never could place but always felt. It reminded her of the sighs she always had on Sundays, back when she attended school. Those Sunday night sighs that she let out while her father snored in front of a ball game, while her mother nagged her little brother about finishing his homework. The drone of the sport’s commentators narrating the ball game, her backpack stuffed with books in preparation for the next morning, the laundry folded neat on the couch, the dinner leftovers packed in Tupperware, stored in the refrigerator, the hazy sun melting away like a creamsicle pop, all the light gone now, just black, quiet night that would soon break into morning. A new Monday. A new week. A week uncannily similar to the last. All of it such a rat race, a maze. Dreary and monotonous, leading to what exactly? Her books in her backpack, her studies, all leading to college. College to a career? A career to make money. Money to make her happy. They had money. And they weren’t happy.
“It was like a guitar string inside her, some invisible finger strumming against it continuously until it just snapped.”
Marge pinched her nose to break the spiral of thoughts. She patted her apron, washed her hands, entered the living room to join her husband.
“Cookies are in the oven,” she said, dropping to the couch. The beaten leather coughed under her weight, and she coughed into a fist.
“Mmm…,” said Seamus. He was halfway through the paper now. Finger shaped streaks of sweat were visible on parts of the flimsy pages he had previously gripped. Marge stared. She watched Seamus’ mouth, slightly agape, and his tongue flit around lazily inside. She watched his finger dig in his ear. She lasered in on his tee shirt, the end of it pulled up a bit to reveal his pot belly. She felt disgust twinge in her stomach. It was like a guitar string inside her, some invisible finger strumming against it continuously until it just snapped.
“I’ve got to use the toilet.” Marge said suddenly. Seamus didn’t seem to notice her abrupt manner. She sat up from her spot in the couch with much effort and walked away.
“Okay.” Seamus murmured.
Marge walked to the bathroom, feeling the broken string writhing into rage inside of her. She tried to quiet it. She dragged down her slacks, placed herself on the toilet. As she peed, she rubbed the skin of her forehead, trying to stop whatever feeling was inside her at the moment. But it continued to heat up, just like her oven in preparation for the cookies. She had felt that red hot temperature rise slowly all afternoon, and now it was at the checkpoint, ready to rumble.
She wiped herself dry, stood up and flushed the toilet. In that moment many things came together at once, and Marge had to lean her forehead against the cool glass of the bathroom window to prevent her head from swimming. It was the sound of the toilet water flushing. The smell of their bathroom, the same smell as her husband and his wretched soap. The smell she woke up to each morning and went to sleep with each night. Her sweating feet and the icy tile meeting. The sickly yellow lighting weak as broth. The image of Seamus back in the living room, cocooned in his greasy armchair, his hands probably rifling in a bag of cheesy potato chips.
It felt good. Her eyes closed. The perfect silence of the home. Save for the distant whistling of falling snow outside. She felt she was in a liminal space. Some blinding, dangling dream-like spider sack bouncing silently in space and time. The plate of cookies untouched on the kitchen counter. Seamus burning through his paper. Snow falling through pitch black forest outside. No people for miles.
Just the two of them.