"Can I ask you a question?" you say, entering the room.
"Why did you say you eat copious amounts of pancakes? You haven't even been eating grains for a month. You barely eat any pancakes when I cook them."
"Are you serious?"
"You haven't so much as mentioned me getting published and that's what you're choosing to say to me right now?"
"The essay was good. I liked it."
"Should have tried leading with that."
Everyday is work. Work that I wish somebody else would do. Everyday is two steps forward and one step back. Everyday is negotiation and swallowing words I would rather spit out. Everyday is a tedious dance, side-stepping hurt feelings and miscommunication. Everyday is fucking exhausting.
On nights like these, nights when the far corners of this house can't put me far enough away from him, I remember the beginning. I remember the bonfire, drunkenly slipping into his lap and kissing for the first time. The next morning when he watched me putting on mascara in the mirror and he wondered aloud earnestly why I thought I needed makeup. I remember the weeks that followed and the novelty of feeling unable to be apart from him. I remember feeling seen.
You know what I like about you? You're witty. He said the words like he was placing a crown on my head. Like he had struck gold.
Too many lesser memories have dog-piled onto those first tender ones, the ones I wish could be wrapped in something soft, put somewhere safe. But they are there, waiting to be unearthed when we have a moment to sit, to remind ourselves what all of this rides on. This family, this house, this life lies heavy on the foundation we laid six years ago.
Tonight there have been too many words. So I will slip into bed beside you, wait for your hand to find the small of my back, your lips to find my shoulder blade. I'm sorry, you will say, or maybe not. A silent reconciliation, so as not to wake the baby. Tomorrow we will forget our harsh words, the ones we couldn't manage to swallow. We will speak gently and listen carefully. We will try again.