A Silent Smile

A cluster of keys clanging together echoed through the dark entry way. The noise ended with a loud thud against a dusty table and a heavy sigh from a human source shortly followed. There was more to do than there were hours in a day. The man's shoulders were hunched in both defeat and exhaustion as he made his way to the kitchen. After pouring himself a fresh cup of coffee, he sat at the dining room table and looked to his left, locking gazes with his wife.

"I know what you're thinking," he mumbled. "If you could do it, I can do it. I just dropped the kids off at practice and boy, are they a handful."

She didn't say a word, but smiled politely back at him. Her auburn hair fell down her shoulders, and her porcelain skin glowed in the sunlight that peeked through the blinds on the window. There was something comforting about the way she looked, and it was the only thing that could calm him down nowadays.

"Listen, though, on top of work, there's school, the laundry, making sure their mouths are fed… I don't know if I can handle it." He buried his head in his hands and dragged them down his face in exasperation before looking back at her once more.

Her smile now was mixed with pity and remorse as she stared into his eyes. He needed no words. Just her expression was enough to feel the love of family and to know that everything would be okay.

"Hey, at least Nina isn't two anymore. There's no way I would be able to do all of this on top of changing a soiled child…"

Her smile changed to amusement—laughter. Or was it a grimace of feigned disgust? He had trouble telling her expressions apart at this point. It had been so long. He felt a sudden emptiness rush over him but shrugged it off with a smile.

"Don't you ever wish you could go back? Or… come back?" he pleaded in a whisper. The coffee at the bottom of his mug mixed with the loose grinds at the bottom into a muddy texture. He swirled it around subconsciously and stared into it.

"God, I miss you."

More silence. A smile.

The stillness was nearly deafening in his mind, and snapped him into a tragic realization of his own reality. Tears stung his dark eyes and he dragged a hand down his face once more, inhaling deeply to stifle the sobs that were threatening to fill the quiet room.

He could bear it no longer.

He stood up and walked by the end of the table her image rested on. Shaky fingers grabbed hold of the edge of the picture frame and slammed it face down on the mahogany finish, and her smiling image was gone.