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Michael aggressively threw open the door of his house, barley breaking his stride as he slammed it behind him. He wore a black baseball cap and a tight blue t-shirt. His regular shoes and a pair of tattered blue jeans covered his lower body.
While he marched to the couch and dropped onto it with reckless abandon, he sighed in frustration. Haley strolled in from the kitchen, happy to see him.
“Hi, honey!” she exclaimed. There was a large protrusion on her belly. She was pregnant.
“Hey,” responded Michael with little enthusiasm, not looking at her as he grabbed the remotes off the coffee table in front of him. He exaggerated this effort, stretching agonizingly slowly.
She glided smoothly around the end of the couch, standing in front of him to the side of the TV closest to the kitchen.
“Could you at least look at me when you talk to me?” Haley demanded, her voice morphing until it was high-pitched. “Aren’t you happy to see me?” Her eyes probed his face, steadfastly attempting to get his attention.
Michael lazily dragged his gaze from the television to her, glaring at her with annoyance that bordered on anger.
“Of course I’m fucking happy to see you. I married you, didn’t I?” His bitterness betrayed the meaning behind his words.
“You sure don’t look or sound happy to see me!” Haley’s voice became even shriller. “Is something wrong? I don’t deserve to be treated this way!”
Michael awarded her with a mocking grin from ear to ear.
“Is that better? Can you leave me alone now?”
“You’re an asshole!” she screamed, throwing her hands toward him in exasperation. She stormed off to the kitchen.
“Yeah, whatever bitch,” he replied with contempt as she left.
Shocked, Haley stopped in her tracks.
“WHAT did you just say?!” she looked back at him, fury seething within her pupils.
“You heard me,” he answered defiantly, his tone getting louder.
She jumped into the air and pumped her clenched fists down, yelling, “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!” Haley’s righteous indignation overcame her, splashing across her mind and body in undulating waves.
“That’s nice. Very lady-like,” Michael retorted with disgust.
This was the last straw. The vehement woman lunged at her dangerous husband, throwing her open hand at him. She put all of her weight behind the blow.
He expertly snatched her wrist before it got to him. He glared at her the way a predator does when it’s about to sink its razor-sharp teeth into its prey’s soft flesh, clenching on relentlessly until the life is drained from the body.
She froze in terror, aware of his violent abilities. Her expression rapidly shifted to earth-shattering dread. Michael angrily thrust her arm back at her, making her stumble several steps backward. He flew off the couch in pursuit, devastating rage overpowering him. Quick, frightened steps carried her back into the kitchen, scurrying away from imminent harm. As she neared the fridge, he grabbed her wrists, pulling up her arms. He furiously pushed her wrists against the fridge, and her body followed, pinning her against it. Her back thudded against the surface. He brought his threatening face right in front of hers, glaring into her eyes.
“Listen, Haley,” Michael warned her, his voice dripping with bitterness. “You know I would never hurt you, but don’t fucking push me,”
He stayed there for a few seconds, allowing his words to percolate in her mind. His eyes bored into her like a sharpened blade sinking into soft, warm skin.
Haley had never been so horrified of anyone else in her entire life. She broke into tears, sobbing uncontrollably, and collapsed, overcome by desolation. Michael caught her as she sank to the floor, holding her gently, and moving down with her. She burrowed into the solace of his consoling embrace, saturating his shirt with her sobs as she whimpered.
After a few moments, she vulnerably looked up at him. Her face glimmered with tears that continued dripping from her eyes. Michael’s authoritative mindset shifted as they both sat in a heap on the kitchen floor. He felt a deep stab of consuming regret, unable to imagine feeling any more disgusted with himself than he did at that moment. He had threatened the person who he loved more than anyone else in the world. Michael would lay down his life for her.
“I’m not one of your fucking torture victims!” His pregnant wife weakly punched his chest as she tried to yell at him. Her voice was frail and hoarse because she was physically and emotionally drained from the trauma.
Michael’s face contorted in agony, a single tear leaking out of the corner of his eye.
“I know honey,” he pathetically acknowledged her concern, his voice breaking in sadness. He looked into her eyes with intense remorse.
“I promise you, nothing like this will ever happen again, okay?” He clutched her shoulders with resolve.
“Okay,” Haley timidly agreed, believing him. The palpable tension gradually subsided.
Her tone became more scolding. A fire burned in her eyes, threatening to burst with vigour and erupt in fatal flames.
“You need to quit this job, Michael. It’s destroying you. Think about the baby.”
Distraught, he sobbed lightly, tears slowly slinking down his cheeks.
“You’re right,” he agreed, his voice cracking while he nodded his head. “I’ll call Marcel right away.”
He stood slowly, gingerly helping Haley up. They stayed wrapped around each other as Michael led her back to the living room. Reaching the couch, they fell onto it as one, and curled up in a nearly indistinguishable mass of intertwined limbs. They settled in, plummeting into their own world of shared contentment.