To Try Her Hand by Jade Becker

In the top shelf of the pull-out cupboards to the left of the stove there was a knife. She had already tugged at the cupboard’s handle, listened to the bearings spin against the oiled steel frame as it protracted, beheld the knife gleaming there. He had installed these new cherry-maple cupboards only three months ago, when she had first found out, and he’d seemed to be doing the favor as a sort of penance, she thought. Whenever she had gone in to check on the progress, offer him another beer, or perhaps offer some help, he would retort by muttering something about how she was never content, how he hoped this would be enough for her, how it was always him who, despite his full-time day job, had to come home and just keep on working. So, dignified, she’d tell him I’m sorry, dear, that’s okay, dear, and walk with short restrained steps out of the kitchen.

But the thing about him that had been so repellant, at least since last winter when she’d found the stack of forty-eight consecutively dated Playboy magazines in a cardboard box labelled CHRISTMAS, is that he had confessed to the whole thing, and more, without any prodding or demonstration of perceivable guilt. He’d looked her right in the eye and said Yes, those are mine. And when she’d asked how long he’d been fucking (not the word she’d used at the time) other women, meaning in the magazines, he’d said—with a face she associated more with pride than contrition—that the thing with Jessica really wasn’t important, and that he would try to be better. That he really would try harder this time. And after she’d been able to regain control of her mouth, which mouth was twisted in that manner of instinctual horror known only to a betrayed spouse, she had shouted in reply: Who the hell is Jessica?

So she’d figured that for the sake of her children, who she silently hoped hadn’t poked around in the box labelled CHRISTMAS before she tore through the magazines and shook them in her husband’s recalcitrant face, she’d figured she would stay with him, and maybe invest in some new bras, maybe pull out the yoga mat she bought herself last year and try to lose some weight. She had even begun watching (and dancing along with) those silly programs with much-too-thin, much-too-happy models dancing and jumping and sweating in unison.

But tonight, he had perused the fridge, found that they were running low on mayonnaise—down to a quarter-jar—and was off, peeling out of the driveway with an urgency unmerited for another trip to Safeway. He had been gone two hours, and she stood now, watching her hand flirt madly with perhaps taking this knife from the cupboard and hiding it under her side of the mattress until he hobbled guiltlessly into their room, that fat chest slowly rising and falling only a couple feet from her thundering, broken, heart.

Jade Becker is an English undergraduate student at George Fox University in Oregon and he works as a writing consultant and newspaper editor on the University campus.