I peered out our kitchen window to watch the sun turn a bright orange as it prepared to put itself to rest. The rays streamed into the room, highlighting the ingredients for you, my dear husband?s supper that lay upon our modest wooden counter: three small hens, steamed rice, and garlic coated chestnuts.|
Reaching for a hen, I hear the front door open. You?re home. I bring my right hand to my heart, freezing as your footsteps became louder. I reach for the knife on the shelf to start cutting the hens, causing the sleeve to my blue kimono to fall a bit, revealing a mark on my wrist. A bruise. Fresh. Painful-
SMACK! A large object violently connects with the back of my skull, lurching me face first into the wall. A hen flies in the air with a few chestnuts. The knife slides from the shelf to the countertop. I reach frantically for the counter to steady myself and miss, knocking over spice jars.
?Stupid woman. I come home from working in that accursed mine wanting a meal and the only thing you have prepared is BROTH?!? I stay down, knowing getting up will render more brutality.
?Get up and do your job.? I wait for your footsteps to fade to rise. Grabbing the counter, I turn to my knees to prepare myself for standing. I pick up the hen and chestnuts to prepare them for cooking. Unbeknownst to you, I was preparing your favorite meal for the final time.
An hour passes. The smell of chicken and ginseng fill the air as well as your demanding bellows. I want some water! Rub my shoulders! Bring me the paper! I grit my teeth, waiting for the sun to finish setting. I scoop your meal in a small bowl and take it to you in the sitting room.
?You know,? you say, as you eat, ?you should be more appreciative for this life I gave you. You could still be working for that trader or have been sold into a different market. Consider yourself lucky. Not many respectful men rescue and marry lowly goods like you.?
I walk back to the kitchen to the tune of your complaints and self-righteousness. In the kitchen, the rays are no longer streaming through the windows. The air is much cooler than before. The room?s only luminance are the dying embers from the pit. It?s time.
I take the knife that I cut the hens with from the counter. I don?t even bother cleaning it before I slip it into my sleeve. Taking one last look around my kitchen, I head towards for the sitting room and stand before you.
The candles illuminate your face. You ask what I want. Silence. You threaten to beat me, train me, remind me who is in charge if I do not speak like a dog. Yet I do not care for that which once dominated my life will be what sets my soul free.
I pull the knife from my sleeve. You pause then rush me, toppling the table. I?m smaller and quicker. I move slightly to the right and you crash through the paper wall. You roll to your back groaning, cursing my name. I stand above you in a straddle with the knife above my head, ready to bring it down to meet human flesh. You grab my left ankle and pull out, causing me to stumble and fall to my right knee. As I go down, I see the candles spread fire to the paneled floors. Time was out.
I pin your arms down with my knee. Everything happens in slow motion. Your eyes widening, your screams for me to stop, my arms coming down?and using my stomach to sheath the knife.
The next thing I know, I?m in a hospital bed. My gut hurts. I can?t sit up. I ask a passing doctor what happened. I am ignored. Throughout the day, the moments of that night begin to replay in my head. I laugh as they become clearer. Tears stream down my face. Weeks pass. I laugh and cry every day, even though it hurts.
Yes, you visited, played the dutiful husband for the ignorant doctors, telling them it was an accident. You stroked my hair, kissed me, stayed with me, brought flowers? But as you know now, with nothing but this letter on my empty bed, I am no long yours to order around, to hit, to hate. I am free. I am free. I am FREE.