Inga’s lips were a thin grim line. Only hair-line wrinkles on her upper lip and deeper crevices at the corners of her mouth indicated where her lips may have been. Inga sat at the kitchen table. She held her fork in her right hand, and the knife in her left. Like a warrior ready for battle, she held them upright in her closed fists. Her eyes were flat and icy.
If Inga been a stranger and not his wife, Otto would have frozen on the spot. But, having lived with Inga for nearly 50 years, Otto was not fazed. “Inga… Honey… talk to me.”
Dropping her eyes, Inga speared a few peas with her fork and put them in her mouth. She chewed with the diligence that most people reserve for chewing beef.
“Inga, I don’t know what to say because I don’t know what I’ve done. Have I offended you?”
Inga helped herself to more peas.
Otto repressed an audible sigh. He slumped smaller in his chair. Silence reigned.
Silence reigned until Otto died. Otto was not surprised, but Inga was. Otto had gone to bed as usual, but he never came down for breakfast. Only after Otto’s egg had solidified and his coffee had grown cold did Inga climb the stairs to Otto’s bedroom.
Otto appeared to be sleeping, but when Inga shook his shoulder, he didn’t respond. When the paramedics arrived, they pronounced him dead.
At which point, a primal cry escaped Inga’s thin lips.