~ a story ~
Something wasn’t right. She knew as soon as she opened the door.
It was the quiet. It was never quiet when she arrived. He always played music, usually something classical, though occasionally jazz piped through his sound system.
And the smell was wrong. He’d always have dinner almost ready. There would be enough time for a drink. Long enough for her to relax, ease herself back into their way. Yes, she served him, but he knew how to take care of her: a warm dinner, a cool drink, and time at his knee to bring her back, bring them both back, to normal. Their normal. Their way.
She gazed right. The table by the door held his keys, tossed onto the wood instead of hung up on its hook. His briefcase and jacket were thrown on the floor. Something was very wrong.
Then, she heard it. His grunts. But not in passion. Not the way he grunted when he punched her, kicked her, or fucked her. His breath carried no pleasure. There was exertion without enjoyment. And she heard another sound, a cushioned thumping sound.
She sat her bag in the living room, as she always did. Took off her coat, as she always did. Put his keys on the hook. Picked up his jacket and briefcase. Walked to his study. Laid the jacket across his chair, the briefcase on the desk.
She followed the noise. It came from the garage.
And then she remembered.
The garage held boxes, tools, and old gym equipment. She grabbed a towel from the hall linen closet. Walked through the silent scentless kitchen. Acquired a bottle of water. Opened the door to the garage.
There he was. Sweaty. Angry. Pummeling the punching bag. It was red, old, taped over on parts. Had lost some of its original cylindrical shape. His hands were wrapped, at least. He was mad, but not angry enough to hurt himself. He wore his running shorts and tennis shoes.
He was focus, hyper-focused, so much so that he didn’t notice her until he heard the sound of the door close.
He looked up. She saw the change in the muscles of his frame, on his face.
“Oh, fuck. What time is it?”
“7:30, Sir.” She walked towards him. With grace, dropped to her knees. Presented the towel and the water. His shoulders slumped as he accepted them and sank into a nearby camp chair.
“It’s okay, Sir.”
“I just. Don’t.” He protested as she crawled towards him, dust and dirt all over the floor. She placed her head against his knee.
“It’s okay, Sir.” She closed her eyes. Encircled her arms around his calf, her legs around his foot. Her temple tickled with his sweat. She scooted her crotch to his heel. She nuzzled her head against his knee.
And then she felt the familiar brush of his hand on her head. And heard his sigh.
It was her turn to take care of him.
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