“He’s just so goddamn passive-aggressive!” fumed the woman with the out of control curly brown hair.
She picked up the telephone and angrily slammed it down on the kitchen table several times.
Peter jumped in his chair.
The woman took a deep breath, closed her eyes and massaged her temples with her fingertips. Peter sat very still. The woman let out a big sigh and looked at Peter.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled. I didn’t mean to scare you.” She breathed deeply and ran a hand through her wild hair and hung up the phone. “He just makes me so mad is all.”
Peter relaxed a bit and took a breath.
“I mean, I don’t understand how he cares about his own mother more than he cares about me. After all these years of me and him together, she still gets priority. Honestly, I think he’s just scared of her. He’s scared to let her down, so what does he do? He bails on me so that she won’t be mad. What a spineless asshole!”
Peter watched the woman as she sat heavily in the chair across the table from him and sighed.
“And it’s not like I ask that much of him either. I really don’t. I don’t care about jewelry or having a fancy house or stuff like that.” She smirked and looked over at Peter. “I mean isn’t it obvious? Just look at this dump! There’s a lot I could ask for, but I don’t.” She gestured at the faded flower-print wallpaper that was beginning to peel. “The least he could do is spend a little money and a little time on his own house and his own family. I mean, really. When’s the last time you spent any time with him?
Peter paused and cocked his head to the side.
“…I mean, when’s the last time he spent any quality time with either of us? All he ever does when he’s home is eat the food I make, watch TV, and ignore us. I…I just don’t understand…” She trailed off. The woman placed her flushed face in her pudgy hands. She sat motionless like that for several moments. Peter sat motionless, watching her. After a minute she lifted her head from her hands to reveal puffy red eyes and tears streaming down her cheeks.
“I don’t know why I’m crying,” she said in a quivering voice. “I guess…” her voice trailed off.
“I guess I just worry that he doesn’t really love me sometimes.” She shook her head. “I mean, I know that’s ridiculous. The second I said it out loud I knew it was ridiculous. He’s a good father. And he has a good heart. He really does. I guess I just want to be put first sometimes. Is that so wrong?”
Peter hopped off his chair and walked cautiously over to the woman with the tear-streaked face. After a moment, he sat down beside her. She sighed and placed her hand on his back and they sat like that for several minutes, both of them staring together blankly at the faded flowered wallpaper.
After what felt like an eternity, the woman took her hand from Peter’s back and glanced at the clock on the wall. “Wow, Peter, it’s later than I thought. Do you want to go for a walk?”
Peter stood up and stretched, following the woman to the front hallway. She opened the creaky screen door and they walked side by side out of the house and into the cool autumn night. The gentle cool breeze felt wonderful on his face as they walked together.
Peter spotted his favorite tree. He sauntered over to it and inhaled deeply. It smelled incredible.
“Go on, Peter,” urged the woman. “Do your business.”
And with that, Peter lifted his furry little leg. The two of them stood silently in the cool fall night, listening to the sound of pee hitting dead leaves.