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In the Lobster Pot

by Jasmine Silver

The metallic, green teakettle whistles. Screams pierce my ears and I think this is the sound that lobsters should make. The sharp, acerated pitches, steaming from their shells, however, only find refuge in our silent air pockets.

In an ocean, that sea-salted steel pot, sound slips but somehow becomes instantly trapped within muted envelopes.

Sadly, I understand that. And as I lie in bed this morning, tossing, turning, I feel a sense of panic. I hear that sequacious shrill in the kitchen, a slow scream that bleats death. Gentle murmurs beg for more time, asking respectfully for consideration.

For nights, the taunting wouldn’t stop, and now with the kettle howling, I rustle from under white sheets, my thick, homemade quilt and down comforter. Routine kicks into overdrive and I tiptoe-run on cold tile until feet find shelter in fluffy moccasins. I snatch a faded robe off the floor, throw it on and burst into the kitchen.

Eyes follow the sound. The stove, good. No fire. No electric shots spewing. No knocks at the door.

“If you’re going to boil the water like this,” I say, “the least you could do is take the kettle off the stove.”

There’s no need to look behind me, pausing for eye contact. I’ll never see through the umbra of his Washington Post. He’ll never lower it long enough for our eyes to meet. Instead we choose “lobster-talk.”

We speak in distant strides, watch words float into the air and hope, hopefully, they travel to one another. This is our definition of conversation: the slow float of words across a median. On a good day words might only have to travel a good few feet. Yet, excitement is only as tranquil as the red flush that rivers over steaming lobsters.

“Just about to head over. Got caught up in the story,” he says, still reading.

“What’s it today?” I ask. “Whose son? Whose husband? Which wife isn’t coming back home?” Minced hint of hostility in my voice. But on the whole, I’m calming as water pours like tequila into my favorite coffee mug.

A clinical therapist, I’d argue any day of the week that having a coping mechanism is better than not.

He disregards my questions, rising quickly from the table, heads towards to the bedroom. He will not tolerate verbal abuse, he says to me.

I think, This is your venue, Christina. Say, “Verbal abuse? No. But physical abuse? Yes.” He’d have no words.

Continue. “Perhaps I should just stomp my foot on one of these floorboards, pick my prize and use your abdomen for target practice!”

Pause for effect, usher in point. “That seems to be the only way you know how to communicate. Surely, you’d only speak to me through codes and army talk, but at least we’d have a face to face dialogue!”

I hear bags zipping when I finally snap out of my thoughts. I feel trapped, saved, at the same time.

In a normal relationship, when a husband storms out in rage, wives give them a couple of cooling hours. We pray he’s at Bob’s house, drinking, talking about us horribly, as oppose to relaxing in Kristen’s arms as she rants about no-good wives. In fetal balls, we rock and think, a new thought with every forward movement.

Yet, when my husband, Second Lieutenant Agni, storms out, upset, I pray he’s out there sailing on the highs of infidelity. I slump, crosslegged at our dinning room table, tea spiked tequila, sipping, praying that in less than two years he’ll come home, begging forgiveness.

He’ll say, “I f’ed up, Christina.”

Then I’ll hear a sequacious shrill, that slow scream, but instead of death, she’ll howl life. How ironic! But I see life in cheating, in him coming home defeated.

I see happiness.

Unfaithfulness. I could deal with that.

In my office, we could sit down, discuss, talk behavior modification, treatment plans, couples therapy, etc.

There is life to be had, however miserable. So what do I have to do for that, I ask myself daily? What do I have to do for normalcy? And how do you tell someone that their dream is hurting you, with a high probability of killing them. You do it carefully. And when “careful” backfires?

Scream, Christina, I introspect. Walk into that bedroom, snatch the bag right out of his hands, and scream. Scream loud so that the syllable floats to him, bursting like fireworks.

Maybe then, when you go on to tell him that you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD from the nightmares of his Iraqi adventures, he’ll stay. He’ll fling his bag onto the floor, wrap you in his arms.

He’ll kiss you, love you. And afterwards, he’ll look deep into your green eyes and say, “You know that kettle’s been whistling the entire time, right?”

Copyright © 2010 by Jasmine Silver

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