The house was quiet, except for the annoyed thoughts I could hear myself thinking about Erik.
Sick of his crap.
We had not been speaking to each other for hours.
I stacked the towels neatly into the closet, passing Erik in the hall. I did not look at his brown eyes or admire his thick black hair. Instead, I grabbed a new set of sheets and I walked away from him, into our bedroom.
Erik followed me, past our black and white wedding photos, but still, we did not speak.
He began helping me stretch the black fitted sheet so that it hugged our king-sized mattress.
Why is he helping me? Doesn’t he have somewhere else to be?
We stood on opposite sides of the king-sized mattress, doing our best not to make eye contact as we tucked in the corners.
I spoke, finally, with repressed force. “I can’t stand when you accuse me of things.”
Erik came around to my side of the bed and smoothed out the part of the sheet that I had already tucked in. “It’s all about you, isn’t it?”
I stomped past him, got the three black pillowcases, and flung them on top of our red comforter.
My tone deepened, anger rising. “Don’t give me that, Erik. You’re the one who has to go off and sleep in the guestroom.”
“Why would I sleep in the same bed as you when you act like this? It’s like I can’t even reach you.”
I felt a hint of guilt, knowing that Erik was constantly sex-deprived during my pregnancies, but I was standing firm. “Don’t you think my feelings should be hurt when you jump to conclusions? You immediately assumed that I was the one who lost the video camera.”
“Of course I thought you lost it. You don’t keep anything organized.”
“Some people don’t need to be obsessive compulsive to know where things are. You act as if I don’t run a successful business.”
“It still amazes me how.”
Erik shoved the white, down pillow into its black cover. The cotton made a flapping sound as he shook the case in front of him.
A sheet of Bounce fell from the pillowcase, its fresh scent a contrast to my rising irritation.
“You know, you can really be a jerk sometimes. I’m tired, I’m pregnant, and I already have enough on my plate.”
I kept my mouth shut, but my mind was loud.
I don’t need you anymore. You can just disappear. I have Tatiana and another baby on the way. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I have my two babies. What do I need you for?
We glared at eachother with obvious contempt.
Later, we made up, as we always did, and laughed at our ridiculous behavior. We apologized for the hurtful words, acknowledged that the nasty thoughts had come from an insecure place. We were both tired, both stressed from working too much so that we could save enough money for our first house.
We did not know Erik would drop dead on our kitchen floor just three months later. We were both 29. We thought we had another fifty years of fighting and making up.
The grief process has led me back to this argument again and again. Did I somehow cause Erik’s death with the awful thoughts I had that day?