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Summer 06

The Words
Barbara Meikle

     The minute she said the words she was sorry, so sorry. Her mother, may she rest in peace, always said, Think before you speak! But this time she didnít even remember opening her mouth; too determined to have her say first. His silence slapped her in the face. She had been so good for so long and now this--how could she have said that and destroyed it all! What had this cost her? Everything she had ever dreamed of. She had broken her husbandís heart. And the children, how would this affect them? They would be crushed.
     She and Jerry had been on edge lately, their conversation limited to as few words as possible. Questions and answers, and more questions. Something had to give or their marriage wouldnít survive. They had promised themselves that once they got through this ordeal--if they got through it--they would go on a real vacation. Their first ever. They deserved it. And now this. Damn, I really blew it! she thought. Because I didnít stop to think first. Next time... but there would be no next time. She knew that. It was over. She had said the words, and she could not take them back.
     She watched his face stiffen in shock. His jaw started to drop but he quickly closed his mouth and slowly contemplated the words he would use next: "I am so sorry you said that, because that is the wrong answer and has eliminated you from the contest. And you were so close. What a shame! But no one leaves empty-handed, so we are going to give you a check for $100. Too bad, Janie! Fred, the next and final question is yours..."

Barbara Meikle is a part-time editor, writer, and octanagerian. She lives north of Boston with her husband of 51 years and their pet boxer.