I hesitated in the hallway, my stomach tightening as inside the kitchen a saucepan was slammed against the stove. The message was clear. She'd heard my approach and wanted me to know before I even entered the room that she was still angry. I considered turning around and heading back upstairs, taking refuge in the bedroom once again, waiting until she had calmed somewhat, but I wasn't going to be bullied.
Not in my own home.
Not by my own wife.
Taking a deep breath I stepped into the doorway. She paused just long enough to cast a fearsome glare in my direction, then continued with what she was doing. Though she had demonstrated on more than one occasion that she was capable of preparing the evening meal in virtual silence, as I crossed the threshold she began banging pots, slamming cupboard doors, stomping across the room, wordlessly communicating that my presence was unwelcome.
I turned my head away, struggling to stop myself from smiling. It was hard not to see the funny side of the Cold War that invariably followed every argument. It was always the same. No matter how trivial the disagreement she would express her opinion in a shrill, almost hysterical, voice and then she would fall silent. Thereafter it didn't matter what I said, unless I backed down entirely, offered my unconditional surrender, she wouldn't speak to me again until the reason for the dispute had been long forgotten.
I leaned against the door-frame, watching as she marched back and forth across the room, knowing that if I tried to so much as get myself a glass of water she would block my path. I knew that my presence was antagonising her, but that was how I fought our battles. I stood my ground, waiting for her to realise how childish she was being, hoping in vain that she would break the silence, offer me a chance to end the hostility without actually backing down.
Occasionally it worked.
She grunted as she bent down to retrieve a can of beans from the cupboard opposite the stove. She slammed it down onto the worktop and grabbed the tin opener, savaging the can until the lid had been beaten into submission. I watched as she picked it up, carried it across the room, upturning the tin over the saucepan and jerking her wrist violently in an effort to expel the contents in one sharp motion.
As the beans poured from the can they made a noise I can only describe as a fart. She glanced at me as if daring me to smirk, to smile, to laugh, but it was she who broke first, her foolish grin causing me to chuckle.
The war was over.
“I'm sorry I called you a cantankerous shrew,” I said, taking a step towards her.
Her smile faltered, her lips narrowing once more. I cursed myself for reminding her why she'd been mad with me in the first place, turning on my heels and walking from the room as the war began again.
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